Tyler Glenn is the iconic voice of Neon Trees, which is a wonderful band. This is his solo debut, and he is off to a solid start. Although this album is pop, it’s deep in nature. It’s pretty clear that Glenn is referring to his former Mormon faith in the album’s title and in the song “G.D.M.M.L. Grls,” where he says “I’m losing my religion and I can’t get over it.” Losing one’s faith isn’t a laughing matter, and it’s clear that Glenn struggled with his departure from Mormonism as a result of being a gay man. He goes unfiltered in his lyrics, and I applaud his honesty. His words carry enormous weight, and he communicates them beautifully through the clarity of his singing voice.
The addictive and pulse-pounding beats that accompany him are the backbone to his lyrics and singing. Every single song has been carefully calculated to stay in your head. They slow down at just the right time, only to build you back up again where it’s appropriate. It never feels rushed. Certain songs do stick out, though, such as “Shameless,” which is raw and sexy.
People who consider themselves Mormon will not like this album. It’s definitely not directed at people who have faith, and it doesn’t paint religion in the most positive light. But I believe the main point of this album is to show the struggle that religion presents when you are trying to stay a part of it and you are simultaneously doing something that goes against it. It’s difficult for people like Glenn, and I’m glad he’s shedding some light on it musically. The album could help many people. My favorite songs from it are “Sudden Death,” “Gods + Monsters,” and “Black Light.”
This is not The Fame, Lady Gaga’s first album from 2008. But I really love Joanne. It’s raw. It’s a fresh take as to who Lady Gaga is right now. She is expected to release songs in a machine-like fashion, but to the dismay of the fans that expect something like the younger Lady Gaga, she is in fact human. I like that she seems to have finally let her old persona go.
This album is more rock than dance, and it has a country twist. The guitar is bluesy and it has twang. The title track, “Joanne,” is a wonderful song and leads perfectly into a new version of Lady Gaga in the song “John Wayne.” The next song, “Dancin’ in Circles,” follows suit, but with more dance; it is reminiscent of the slower pop songs Lady Gaga did on The Fame. There are some heartbreakers on here, such as “Million Reasons,” which has one of my now-favorite lines about breaking up: “I got a hundred million reasons to walk away, but baby, I just need one good one to stay.” It’s simple, but it’s something that most people can relate to.
Most of the album can be imagined as one big sepia-toned Western. If I could choose a song to start when I walk through the doors of any building, it would be “Sinner’s Prayer,” which has a healthy country bounce and a pop rock tone.
Joanne is fun, but I don’t think everyone will love it. Some people will always judge it for not being at all like her first album. It is indeed different, and I love it. My favorite songs from the album are “Hey Girl,” which features Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine, and “Just Another Day.” I would suggest every single living person on the planet should listen to these two.