Named after the In-N-Out burger chain’s colorful palm design, Neon Trees came together while attending college in Provo, Utah. Two years ago, the alt-rock newcomers opened some shows for The Killers and came to the attention of major label Mercury.
Fronted by lanky keyboardist Tyler Glenn, who favors “whoa oh” choruses, the foursome makes expansive danceable music that should appeal to fans of the aforementioned Las Vegas band, Metro Station and All American Rejects. Sugarcult’s Tim Pagnotta manned the studio boards for Habits and co-wrote half the tracks.
On propulsive opener “Sins of My Youth,” about teenage trials and tribulations, Glenn sings “I break habits just to fall in love/But I do it on designer drugs/You can call me dangerous.” A distinct Duran Duran-inspired bass line propels the darker “Love and Affection” as drummer Elaine Bradley provides heavenly backing harmonies.
There’s a Strokes-styled vibe to the winsome laws of attraction tune “Animal,” where the straight edge Glenn compares a lover to a cannibal and describes the intoxication of love: “I feel the chemicals kicking in.” Elsewhere, the high flying, aptly-titled “1983” comes across like a lost John Hughes film soundtrack contribution (not a bad thing). Reverb-drenched guitars on “Your Surrender” (co-produced by S*A*M & Sluggo) and spoken word intro on “Our War” provide a welcome change of pace.