Neon Trees Doo Wop Justin Bieber

80 Billboard Rating

NEON TREES
"Picture Show"
Producer: Justin Meldal-Johnsen
Label: Mercury Records
Release Date: April 17

Fans of this Utah synth-rock outfit's ultra-catchy 2010 hit "Animal" will find much to appreciate about Neon Trees' sophomore album, "Picture Show," which leads with a half-dozen hook bombs right in a row, including the insistent "Everybody Talks" and the crisply propulsive "Teenage Sounds." The latter's title gets at the jumpy new wave vibe of "Picture Show." As the band did on its debut, Neon Trees expertly maps the territory separating the Killers, the Strokes and Franz Ferdinand here. Things soften a bit during the album's second half: The lumpy "Trust," for instance, wears out its welcome long before the jam section that carries it beyond the six-minute mark, while "Hooray for Hollywood" sports an ill-advised spoken-word passage that recalls Madonna's "Vogue." Still, Neon Trees flex some impressive songcraft here. "Picture Show" should end up as one the year's most tuneful rock releases.

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