Tyler Glenn Depicts Brilliant, Meaningful Message on ‘Excommunication’
Neon Trees Frontman turned solo artist Tyler Glenn depicts brilliant, meaningful message on his debut album, ‘Excommunication’
Neon Trees frontman Tyler Glenn introduces himself to the world as a solo artist with debut album Excommunication. Excommunication is one of the most intriguing efforts of 2016, depicting his exit from the LDS church (he identifies it as a “faith crisis”). He wasn’t excommunicated, but being openly gay, the Mormon church isn’t known for openness regarding the LGBT community. Over its course, Glenn takes aim and the judgmental and how his perception of religion has shifted because of it.
“Sudden Death (OMG)”
Opener “Sudden Death (OMG)” fittingly initiates Excommunication. From the jump, Glenn is taken aback – sort of shell-shocked – by the course of how his faith has changed.
“God / I never asked to fall from grace.”
He goes on to include others’ opinions (“a little crazy”). He sums up the life-changing experience on the chorus, likening his new life – the state of confusion and apathy – as sudden death. He’s chosen a sinful path from the church’s perspective, and although the “wages of sin is death,” he continues to live.
“Oh my God / catch me I’m starting to fall / I don’t know what all this is for / keep coming at me with your disrespect / you went and started a war / now I don’t care anymore / I keep on living like it’s sudden death…”
“Sudden Death” is exceptionally well produced, set in a minor key, and sets the tone for Excommunication.
“G.D.M.M.L. Grls,” one of five pre-release singles, follows in all its glory. Glenn clarifies that homosexuality isn’t a choice, despite the philosophies of the Mormon church, and many other religions. Like the opener, the production is slick, steeped in electronics and carrying over elements of neo-new-wave from the Neon Trees. This is Glenn’s kiss-off anthem – quite danceable despite his seriousness. Among the fiercest lyrics, he asks:
“If I kiss a boy in public is that cool? / Am I f*cking up your day? Now that’s just rude.”
Glenn passionately denounces the LDS church on a third, consecutive standout, “Trash,” the bold promo single. Throughout its controversial course, he uses spiritual references antithetically. The key lyric of the entire song hails from the refrain: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” As a whole, “Trash” sums up his current lot in life: He’s gay, another man will love him even if the church won’t, and he’s done putting his faith into a church that doesn’t support him.
He takes a shot at religion once more on “Gods + Monsters,” but the central focus is an ex-boyfriend.
“I believed in gods and monsters too / then I found out they’re all imposters just like you / somebody take me higher, higher, higher…”
What’s interesting is the prevalence of innuendo. It seems that Glenn wants to invite the listeners into his world and understand the place that he comes from. “Gates,” another pre-release single, moves past the ex- of “Gods + Monsters,” focusing on living in the moment.
“I’m a kiss my love like I want to / gotta love him while I can like the greats do.”
While he is skeptical about eternity, he still intends to “see you up there.”
“Shameless” is as superbly produced as anything else, filled with electronic components make this a sleazy tone poem of sorts. The sleaziness is further amplified by a minor key and a shameless lyrical picture.
“Maybe meet you with a couple friends / this ain’t love, but maybe we pretend / rent some pornographic movie / and we both know how it ends…”
While Glenn infuses more sex into the “Shameless,” he’s still highlighting prejudices against the LGBT population, particularly from the church’s perspective. Despite such prejudices, he makes it clear, “I don’t give a damn.”
The high-energy “Waiting Around” features one of the most interesting grooves of the album. After being pissed at an ex on “Gods + Monsters,” he’s crushing on a guy. It’s so intense, he asserts, “You got me giving up on Jesus.” Follow-up “First Vision” continues the highly personal nature of Excommunication. Glenn’s issues have been incredibly tough for him to deal with. “First Vision” marks the recovery, evidenced on the bridge:
“I used to feel it and now I don’t feel it at all / I’m painting over all the paintings on my wall / my tears are dry and finally I feel ten feet tall.”
“Midnight” yields another powerful, authentic message. Glenn discusses his break with the church, but still retains a relationship with God. Essentially, he states that the break was necessary to be true to himself, but despite the fact that he’s “not coming Sunday,” he can’t turn away from God. “One More” changes the vibe completely, embracing contemporary R&B. Once more, he flirts with sex.
“But if you give me once more night / I could prove that there’s a God.”
“Black Light” feels like a companion piece and natural follow up, accelerating the tempo. Lustful to the nth degree, he knows exactly what he wants to do. Penultimate record “John, Give ‘Em Hell” puts the bedroom aside, focusing on advocacy. According to Glenn, it was written for a friend who was excommunicated. Lyrically, he speaks to being inspired by his friend. “John” is quieter, and possess a more haunting quality compared to a number of other songs on the album.
One of the best moments of Excommunication arrives at the end. “Devil” finds Glenn blaming the devil for his lot in life.
“I think the devil made me do it, do it, baby / I found myself when I lost my faith…”
Despite the devilishness, he’s happy he’s found himself, almost as if it’s his salvation.
“Don’t pray for me… / I found myself when I lost my faith.”
All in all, Tyler Glenn depicts brilliant, meaningful message on his debut album Excommunication. Throughout the course of the album, he showcases tremendous authenticity and an exceptional, nuanced set of pipes. There are no miscues in regards to material – all 13 songs are worthwhile.
Gems: “Sudden Death (OMG),” “G.D.M.M.L. Grls,” “Trash,” “Shameless,” “First Vision” & “Devil”