Tyler Glenn: Excommunication

Posted October 27, 2016 by in Pop



3/ 5


Genre: ,
Genre: Pop, rock
Producer: Tim Pagnotta, Tyler Glenn
Label: Island
Format: Digitla download, compact disc, streaming
Release Date: 21 October 2016
Spin This: "Gates," "Black Light," "Midnight"


Transparent lyricism, confrontational mode and red-hot subject matter presents the deepest Neon trees' Tyler Glenn has ever been.; elements of throwback '80's New Wave and rhythmic R&B scattered throughout soundtrack


Religious rants are overbearing and take over the full album; often too morbid for the masses and Neon Trees following newbies

Confessions of an angry Mormon outline the debut solo album of Neon Trees’ frontman

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

Confessions of an angry Mormon outline the debut solo album of Neon Trees’ frontman

tylerglenn-01When Tyler Glenn came out as gay in 2014, it came with a bonus revelation — the Neon Trees frontman would also be one of the first loud and proud gay men to identify as a practicing Mormon. To some far-right conservatives, the notion of being gay and Christian walks the lines of oxymoron-ism. But for him, it’s not only possible; it was his reality. And on his first solo album, Excommunication, Glenn — who has since renounced his Mormon faith — takes on the cynics by constructing a set of bold, transparent confessions that unashamedly carves his faith into almost every nook and cranny of his life. It’s a partial gospel record, minus the Sunday morning worship. And it’s a type of record that could have never been actualized in the Neon Trees canon.

For the most part, the music aboard Excommunication plays like a marriage of edgy Nick Jonas, synthy Depeche Mode and Bobby Brown pop. The vibe blends ’80s New Wave synths and rhythmic R&B beats, mostly all midtempo in pace. And virtually every song throws fiery darts at the cynics, detractors and fire-and-brimstone haters. It not always perpetuated attacks on malice, with messages of evolution, self-discovery and humility lighting the fire of Glenn’s personal victories. But there’s a lot of anger inside these tracks, for sure. “Shameless” is rebellious, broody and confrontational, all at once (“Why not take me now as I am?”), while “John Give ‘Em Hell, a dreamy folk-like open letter to Mormon outcast and podcast creator John Dehlin, encourages his subject to don’t give up the fight on anti-gay religious rhetoric. “Trash,” spotted with future synths and dank PBR&B, shines the light on the sheep in wolves’ clothing: “In all of this, I lost myself/maybe I’ll see you in hell.” And when he digs into intimate collections of his love life on “Gods + Monsters,” he finds a clever way to equate the rage he has with a cheating boyfriend along with his disdain of the Mormon church (“I lost the Lord then I lost you”). Even in the last minutes of the album, the blues inside Glenn’s soul stays afloat. The closing track “Devil,” a rhythmic pop-rock song treated with cache of warm melodies, finds ways to justify his evil actions as he struggles with his inner demons.

With all the pain resting inside Glenn’s first solo set, there’s a definite highlight that rises to the front. The centerpiece of the record, the glue to the set, is heard inside “G.D.M.M.L. Girls.” He shoots down theories of ex-gay therapy using the elements of an EDM-airbrushed dance floor jam, proudly declaring the science of sexual fluidity trumps the warped views one has on sexual preferences. “God didn’t give me alternatives, no/When she put me on the earth/God didn’t make me like girls,” he sings on a chorus flirting with Japanese pop riffs. But it is the second verse that brings home the bacon, as Glenn confronts the dark side of the church-fed depression: “Go on, give up on me/I think my father still loves his son/I tried to kill myself and I’m not the only one.” The thought of suicide, now a footnote of his past, causes listeners from all walks of life to reexamine this record as one of confessional therapy and not just as a bitter tirade at traditional church dogma.

Painfully the whole album is riddled with religion, that it’s almost hard for a simple love ballad to thrive in this claustrophobic sanctuary of music. The music used isn’t exactly memorable, a pale comparison to Neon Trees’ 2014 glowing album Pop Psychology. Those looking for something more upbeat or an arena sing-a-long will leave almost empty handed, unless they get a chance to hear “Gates.” It’s the warmest sacrifice of them all, blessed with a happier fantasy of Heaven and Glenn’s decision to live a bold authentic life when he discovers his rightful companion: “Imma kiss my love like I want to/Gotta love him while I can like the greats do.” “Black Light,” a late ’80’s Hall & Oates-sounding gem, is also worth picking out. And there’s also “Midnight,” where Glenn invites us into one of the best awkward conversations with God ever put on a pop ballad. “I’ve been on the run so I’m not coming Sunday/It’s alright, I’ll probably talk to you at midnight,” he sings humbly. Even with all these dark clouds to journey through, thank goodness there’s at least two or three silver linings to discover.


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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