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Scoring multi-platinum hits with "Animal" and "Everybody Talks," Neon Trees blend new wave, dance, and indie into smart, catchy pop. Though their hook-laden style echoes the Strokes, their friends the Killers, and their tourmates Duran Duran, the band has stood out from their peers and influences. This is largely thanks to Tyler Glenn's songwriting, which chronicles the dynamics of relationships in witty, relatable ways starting with 2010's Habits and reaching new levels on 2014's Pop Psychology's explorations of his feelings about coming out. After a lengthy break, 2020's I Can Feel You Forgetting Me offered a more mature version of Neon Trees' slick yet heartfelt sound.
Neon Trees' roots go back to vocalist/keyboardist Glenn and guitarist Chris Allen's time growing up in Southern California: when Allen moved to Provo, Utah for school, Glenn, a self-taught musician, followed him. The pair connected with bassist Branden Campbell and drummer/vocalist Elaine Bradley; originally from Chicago, the latter began playing guitar in bands when she was 14 before switching to the drums. They started playing as Neon Trees in late 2005 perfected their new wave-tinged sound at local shows. The band released their first EP, 2006's Becoming Different People, while on tour in California. Neon Trees got their big break when the Killers' drummer, Ronnie Vannucci, saw them play a show in Las Vegas (previously, he and Campbell were members of a ska band), which led to them opening for the Killers on several dates of their 2008 North American tour.
Early in 2009, Neon Trees signed to Mercury Records; they were also voted Band of the Year by Salt Lake City's City Weekly. The group's Mercury debut, Habits, arrived in March 2010 and peaked at number 113 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart. Its single "Animal" became a hit, reaching number 13 on the Hot 100 Singles Chart that November; eventually it earned double platinum status and won the 2011 Billboard Music Award for Top Alternative Song. Late in 2010, Neon Trees released the holiday single "Wish List" and the live EP iTunes Live from SoHo.
Tours with Thirty Seconds to Mars, My Chemical Romance, and Duran Duran continued to elevate Neon Trees' profile. In November 2011, they scored another hit with "Lessons in Love (All Day and All Night)," a collaboration with house producer Kaskade that hit number 94 on the Hot 100. A guitar-heavy version of the song appeared on the band's April 2012 album Picture Show. At once more rock- and more electronic-influenced than Habits, it became Neon Trees' first Top 20 album shortly after its release. Picture Show's lead single, "Everybody Talks," was also a success, reaching number six on the Hot 100 that September. During 2012 and 2013, they toured extensively, sharing stages with acts ranging from Maroon 5 and Taylor Swift to the Offspring and the Flaming Lips.
In 2013, Neon Trees reunited with Habits producer Tim Pagnotta, recording in Cabo San Lucas, Los Angeles, and Provo; in January 2014 the single "Sleeping with a Friend," which reached 51 on the Hot 100, offered the first taste of Neon Trees' more polished approach. In March, Glenn revealed he was gay, and a similar soul-searching mood ran through the band's third album, that April's Pop Psychology, The album debuted at number six on the Billboard 200, and in May, Neon Trees won a BMI Pop Award for "Sleeping With a Friend." After touring in support of the album, in May 2015 the band issued the non-album single "Songs I Can't Listen To." In April 2016, Glenn embarked on his solo career with the brash electro-pop single "Trash," which drew controversy for its critique of the conservative values of the singer's former faith, Mormonism. His full-length solo debut Excommunication appeared that October, and further explored Glenn's feelings about leaving religion behind.
Aside from the 2017 single "Feel Good," Neon Trees remained mostly quiet as Glenn worked on solo projects, including his Broadway debut in a 2018 production of Kinky Boots. His stage work made him want to work in the studio with his band, and Neon Trees began work on their fourth album in 2019. That November, they released the single "Used to Like," which became a Top Ten hit in the U.S. Arriving in July 2020, I Can Feel You Forgetting Me took inspiration from the transient nature of relationships in the late 2010s and early 2020s. ~ Heather Phares