Sunday, 13 February 2011

Album Review: Neon Trees - Habits

Album: Habits
Artist: Neon Trees
Singles: Animal, 1983, Your Surrender

This band first caught my attention when I heard Animal on Radio 1, and ever since I have been eagerly anticipating more - before I realised they'd already released this album in the US a year ago. So I confess that I did have a little search on YouTube for the tracks for a couple of listens before its official UK release. And in it I have found a new band to enjoy - so here's the track by track verdict:

Sins Of My Youth
After a little intro, the song turns into a real rocker of an opener, throwing the listener straight into the world of Neon Trees, with their catchy rhythms and awesome guitar lines. "I've got these habits that I cannot break" goes the first chorus and it's quite appropriate considering how many times I wanted to go back and listen to this song. As it closes down, the words "Would you love me still" are repeated as a gaggle of voices sing the first line of the chorus in the background, before it ends abruptly.

Love And Affection
Starting off with a beat that rapidly becomes very catchy, a bass line joins in before it launches into the main part of the song. This one demonstrates how good the vocals on this album are. Generally, it's a fairly standard rock song affair, but by no means is it a bad song; the chorus, despite the simplicity of the lyrics, was stuck in my head for a while afterwards. The song is over quite quickly, as with most songs on this album, but at least it doesn't outstay its welcome.

The well-deserved first single, with a chorus that just screams at you to sing along ("Oh, oh, I want some more, oh, oh, what are you waiting for?"). It is, for lack of a better word, an incredibly catchy tune, and a very good choice for first single.

Your Surrender
Jumping straight in with the vocals backed by an atmospheric guitar line, this one wouldn't have been a personal choice for a single, but I can understand why it would be. It doesn't quite match up to the standards set by previous two singles Animal and 1983, but the chorus will have hordes of fans singing along - "How long 'til your surrender to me?" surrounded by obligatory "oh-oh-oh..."s. It's still a good song, but it's eclipsed by:

My personal favourite on the album, with a pounding drumbeat starting off proceedings, as the standard "whoa, whoa..." that seems to be getting quite frequent on this album turns up. The guitar and bass lines take control of the song and make it their own. The vocals are also once again at their peak - for example, the way that singer Tyler Glenn releases the line "1983!" at the end of the chorus, just begs you to scream your heart out along with it. Brilliant.

Girls And Boys In School
Taking it down a notch in terms of volume, but not in terms of brilliance. This is another highlight of the album - we're over halfway now, but it shows a bit of variance in the sound, but keeping the tried and tested formula used on the other songs. "I've got a question, would you ever dance with me like that?" is the line from the chorus on offer here that will have the crowd singing along. And as the song moves towards its huge climax, the vocals get louder and pack a real punch, before it slows down and fades away.

In The Next Room
Straying a little bit from the earlier sound again, but this time, I'm not as keen on this song as I was on the other songs. It's better than a lot of stuff I hear on the radio these days, and the chorus still gets me wanting to sing along, but not as enthusiastically as the first six tracks.

Our War
Technically, this was the original album closer, but as they give two bonus tracks, I count them as tracks 9 and 10, because 8 tracks seems a little short. Unfortunately, I have to label this one as my least favourite - the guitar line isn't as epic-sounding as the first bunch of songs, and generally fails to excite me much. The opening part, which is spoken, does sound like the song's going to be really big, but I found it to be a slight anti-climax of a song, but again, I happily listen to it and don't feel the need to skip it when going through the album.

A definite improvement on the last two tracks, whilst not bringing anything new and interesting to the table, I find the tune very memorable and enjoy singing along to the chorus of "Helpless, helpless, what makes my lonely heart feel like this?" Again, I find this song to be over far too quickly, but appreciate that it doesn't drone on.

Farther Down
Although seemingly intended just a bonus track, this works well as an album closer. As the guitar joins in for the intro, it sounds like it's going to launch into something massive, but instead takes a different direction and turns into quite a laid-back, calmer song, at least for the verses. The chorus, on the other hand, for the last time, wants you to sing along. The only song on the album that lasts over five minutes, and doesn't do what I feared a longer song would do - overstay its welcome. It's a decent album closer; not quite as good as the first half of this album, but closes it down well.

So, overall, a good debut album - it may be a long way away, but I'm looking forward to a second album, and seeing where they take this sound. At some times on this album, the songs do sound quite similar to each other, but when they mix it up a bit, it gets a bit hit-and-miss (Girls And Boys In School is brilliant, but I can't say the same of In The Next Room). But, still an enjoyable album.


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