Neon Trees: Picture Show

neon trees, picture showNeon Trees: Picture Show
As a reviewer, there is nothing harder than reviewing a mediocre album. Great albums you can rave about; bad albums you can demonize. Mediocre albums pose a real challenge. So when listening to Neon Trees‘ sophomore album, Picture Show, I found myself fighting over which the album was, good or bad. Unfortunately when an album is fighting between good and bad, it usually means it is neither.
The problem with Picture Show is that Neon Trees can not decide what kind of band they want to be. The opening track, “Moving in the Dark,” shows the band at their most enigmatic. Vocalist, Tyler Glenn does his best Freddie Mercury over a The-Who-meets-My-Chemical-Romance instrumental. The track is big, bold arena rocker.
But the album is not just filled with arena rockers, the Neon Trees have a completely separate, understated sound they also indulge in. Tracks like the album closer, “Take Me For a Ride,” hardly sounds like the same band that made “Moving in the Dark.” The track is a lifeless ballad with Tyler Glenn sounding like Julian Casablancas more than Freddie Mercury. He croons over what sounds like a Casio keyboard drum beat and jangle-pop guitars.
Although those are the best and worst songs on the album respectively, in between the two tracks are variations of each. Lead single, “Everybody Talks,” is in the good category, although Glenn is clearly still channeling Casablancas. The Kaskade collaboration, “Lessons in Love (All Day, All Night),” is in the bad category with the hopped up drum beat and wall-of-synths not being able to draw out an emotive vocal performance. When you tally up the strong songs, there are as many, if not more, weak songs. I guess, in the end, the album is probably closer to being a bad album than a good one.
Rating: 4.2/10
MP3: Neon Trees “Moving in the Dark”
Buy: iTunes or Insound! Vinyl