Neon Trees Light Up Fourth Street

By CHASE CUNNINGHAM
The Voice-Tribune Intern

Neon Trees first flashed onto the pop-rock scene with their catchy wardrobes and catchier tunes in 2008, and the band has produced two platinum singles, “Animal” and “Everybody Talks,” to date. Now, hot off the release of their latest album, “Pop Psychology,” the band is dancing to Fourth Street Live! on Saturday, June 21.

Neon Trees have actually played Fourth Street Live! before, but drummer Elaine Bradley was absent with her newborn son. So she’s excited to be on board this time. “We consider ourselves a live band. We bring a lot of energy,” she said. “There are fun lights, there are usually outfit changes, there are stage pieces. It’s kind of like a Vegas variety show but with really catchy pop music.”

The band, signed to Mercury Records, spins whimsically blunt lyrics with head-bobbing beats and sparkling, New Wave-inspired melodies.

“We always love a good song, and a good song usually makes you want to either sing or dance or both,” Bradley said. “I think music is such a celebration, you know? At least that’s how we treat it.”

The success of “Pop Psychology” certainly has been something to celebrate. The album debuted at No. 1 on the top rock albums chart and No. 6 on the Billboard 200 chart. Bradley said the group’s upbeat battle for success is far from over. “We like to take steps back often and look at what we have and be very grateful. At the same time, we’re super hungry, and we just always want more.”

This record is the most complete and thorough presentation of what Neon Trees is to date.

“We took what we learned by recording the first two albums. We figured out what we really liked about those processes and what we didn’t like,” Bradley said. “We decided ahead of time, ‘Hey, we’re not going to look at this album like it’s going to be a live show. We’re going to make this album the way we want to make it.’ Wonderfully enough, all of the songs have really translated to live very well. So it worked out.”

The band members credit their background with their dedicated work ethic and markable conduct, whether touring or at home. All are currently based in Provo, Utah, and are members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. “I definitely think the ‘no drugs and alcohol’ policy doesn’t hurt us at all, and I think, in fact, it helps us,” Bradley said. “I think that’s probably one of the reasons we’re able to do what we do and work so hard at it, because we do it with clean living. We’re able to keep up with ourselves and still be healthy and resilient and happy.”

But happiness hasn’t always come as readily as resilience for this eccentric group. Two years ago, frontman Tyler Glenn found himself sliding into a kind of personal crisis. The suppression of his sexual identity was finally bubbling to the surface and by the end of 2012 the band was on a break and Glenn was seeking therapy.

The therapy helped, and Glenn, feeling refreshed, left for Mexico alongside lifelong friend and producer Tim Pagnotta, where they began to write songs for “Pop Psychology.” Glenn had always been gay, but now, through tracks like “Sleeping with a Friend” and “Teenage Love,” he was emboldened and empowered to profess the thoughts and emotions he had kept secret for years.

Although a lot has changed for Glenn in the past year, Bradley hasn’t seen much change within the band’s dynamic, or the way their music reaches fans. “It’s not too much different, just because he’s being honest about who he is. That doesn’t necessarily affect the band, or our dynamic or anything like that,” she said. “I think it’s great that people are finding inspiration in his honesty and things like that, but as far as how they affect us internally, it really doesn’t, because he’s still the same guy.”

It’s difficult for anything to darken Neon Trees’ spirits, or hold back the band’s poppy, post-punk sound.

“I hope that everybody comes (to the show),” Bradley said, “Because it’s going to be a great time.”