By MIKE CHAIKEN
The songs on Neon Trees’ latest album “Pop Psychology,” have a happy, bouncy feel.
The catchy melodies, such as the first single, “Sleeping with a Friend,” or other tracks such “I Love You, But I Hate Your Friends” and “Teenager in Love,” are infectious ear worms that will get you humming. And the spry beats will get you dancing.
But, as the band’s lead singer, and chief songwriter, Tyler Glenn explained it, the songs have a much darker origin.
Neon Trees play the Dome at Toyota Oakdale in Wallingford on July 10.
With the first two albums, “Habits” and “Picture Show,” Tyler said, “I had been burning the candle at both ends.”
“We got successful and had not stopped since ‘Animal’ (the band’s first hit single),” said Tyler.
“I found myself in front of crowds trying to find my identity,” said Tyler.
Tyler said he ended up seeking therapy. “That opened up my mind.”
Initially, as Tyler waded through this moment in time, he said the songs he wrote were “deeply lonely, deep, and dark.”
When it came time to write the songs for the album that would become “Pop Psychology,” he wanted to touch upon the anxieties he faced. But rather than fester in those dark spots, and since by then he was in a “better place,” the songs “celebrated finding myself.”
Writing a record from such a personal place did generate some trepidation for Tyler.
“There’s always this risk, ‘Am I going to give away too much or something that puts off a fan base.”
That said, however, Tyler said, “I never let that rule us.”
But despite Tyler’s concerns, the record has been embraced by existing fans and new fans, as well.
“It’s so nice to see a pay off,” said Tyler, who has seen fans buying the record, like it, and when they come to performances, singing the words.
The first single off the new album is “Sleeping With a Friend,” which has exploded across radio and is a fixture on VH1 and MTV.
Tyler said the band— which also includes Chris Allen (guitar, vocals), Branden Campbell (bass guitar, vocals), and Elaine Bradley (drums, percussion, vocals)— chose the track because “we thought it was a really fresh sound for us… It never gets tiring.”
To top it off, said Tyler, simply, “I like it.”
Although the band had hoped that “Sleeping with a Friend” would be a hit, it wasn’t sure how the public would react. “It’s a different sound for this band that people might not have been used to.”
For its previous two albums, and its hits, “Animal” and “Everybody Talks,” Neon Trees’ sound definitely showed its throw- back roots. “We’ve always tended to be inspired by and pulled from the 1970s/ 1980s bands.” Tyler said the band definitely was influenced by groups such as synth pop bands Duran Duran and Depeche Mode, as well as power poppers Cheap Trick.
But for “Pop Psychology,” Tyler said the band was more focused on sounding like Neon Trees.
To achieve this, said Tyler, the band was more open to using the studio as a tool. “‘Pop Psychology’ sounds more updated,” said Tyler.
Those 1970s and 1980s influences are still there, said Tyler. But they are more below the surface rather than as blatant as they were on the first two records.
Neon Trees is based on Provo, Utah, which is not your typical music scene. Although they all call it home, Tyler said they all actually moved to the state when they were in their 20s.
“Provo is an untapped resource for music,” said Tyler of his current home town. The band was able build a solid fan base there before it even set out on a national tour, said Tyler.
“It helped us write (songs) and build the live show,” said Tyler.
And although the band could move to one of the pop music capitals, such as Los Angeles, “It made sense to stay in Utah and still live here.” He said he enjoyed being “hometown heroes” in Provo.
When Neon Trees comes to Connecticut, Tyler said fans can expect a show that elevates the production values of previous tours. “There’s a lot of depth,” said Tyler. “I really enjoy what we’ve done with this show.”
On this tour, and propelled by the success of “Pop Psychology” has been finding itself performing in front of sell out crowds.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” said Tyler of the sell outs. “We worked really hard… It’s cool.”
But, Tyler said he recognized the band hasn’t totally arrived and there is still room for improvement.
Tyler said that when a band finds initial success, such as the band did for the first two albums, that when it comes time to record a third album, there is temptation “rest on your laurels.”
But Tyler said “We’re working to keep going and pushing ourselves.”
Neon Trees plays the Dome at Toyota Oakdale in Wallingford on Thursday, July 10 at 8 p.m. For more information, go to Oakdale.com or FameIsDead.com
By MIKE CHAIKEN