Provo, Utah, may not be the most happening place in the United States, but it has produced one of the freshest and most promising pop-rock groups to hit the music scene in a number of years.
Neon Trees, a group of ’80s synth-pop revivalists, signed a contract with Mercury/Def Jam Records after it wowed record representatives with its live performances.
“Habits,” Neon Trees’ debut album, is filled with adolescent angst, memories of the golden years and infatuation. The band’s Strokes-like guitar parts and Killers-emulating synthetic overlaying fuse together seamlessly and provide the listener with a euphoric flashback, or flashforward, to their teenage years.
The album’s teenage persona is exemplified through songs dealing with unrequited love, mischief and exploration. “Habits’” overall theme offers a fitting parallel to Neon Trees’ first steps into its existence with a major record label backing them.
Front man Tyler Glenn’s decibel-dominating vocals soar through each track with ferocious intensity. Glenn’s voice knows no limit as he drops to lower-level murmurs and then skyrockets to hair-raising octaves. His voice combines a youthful and spiritual vitality with the virtuosity of a more experienced bandleader.
If the listener hasn’t grasped the band’s adolescent tone by now, nothing is more blatant than “Girls and Boys in School.” The song incorporates a gritty bass line that will have listeners recalling the early days of The Bravery. Glenn recounts high school antics and points out, “It’s like we learned our lesson but conveniently forgot the rules.” The track adopts a carefree attitude as the band marches on as if nothing in the world can stop them.
“Habits” begs the listener to roll the windows down, don the shades and crank the volume.