Neon Dreams presents fluorescent themes

Neon signs glow brightly, but Neon Dreams glow with dazzling youth and opportunity that’s even brighter.

The band Neon Dreams, with members Frank Kadillac and Adrian Morris, compares teenagehood to neon signs in their second album, “The Happiness of Tomorrow.” 

Like being young, neon signs emit an alluring aura at the expense of high energy consumption that cannot be maintained: it’s not the most efficient, nor the most productive time of our lives. However, Neon Dreams encourages their audience to embrace these short moments of burning adolescence that comes once in a lifetime. In the “Happiness of Tomorrow,” they are unapologetically young, highlighting the raw and painful aspects as part of the halo of youthfulness. 

The first track, “Lifestyle of the Broke and Nameless,” touches upon a theme that’s almost become a cliche within pop music: being different. Nonetheless, the sincere lyrics and Kadillac’s airy vocals deliver a genuine message that elevates their music from generic songs. “This is for the young and hopeless,” he sings, “Close our eyes and wait for better days.”

Continuing in that vein, the second track, “Sick of Feeling Useless,” gives voice and representation to those who feel voiceless. “We speak up but nobody listens, tries hard but don’t make a difference,” they sing in soft acapella. As the song progresses, it gradually shifts to a strong chorus as many voices join together to sing the phrase “sick of feeling useless” with rhythmic claps. Not only is this a powerful moment musically, but it also creates a sense of community to let the listener know that they are not alone. 

Each of the remaining songs tackles a different aspect of being young. In “All the People,” Neon Dreams talks about peer pressure. “You smile when you want to cry, keep it in just to get you by,” Kadillac sings gently as he describes someone hiding who they are in order to fit in. After a short musical break, the melody swells unexpectedly to a rousing chorus. “You are original, you are beautiful, inside and out,” Neon Dreams chant, “I’m talking about all of the people.” 

In the last and titular track, “The Happiness of Tomorrow,” Neon Dreams explores the heaviest issue of this album. The song opens with someone reeling to recover after their friend’s suicide. “This time my friend took the easy way out,” they sing,  “Every day I blame myself.” As the song continues, the beat gradually becomes more energetic, showing that it’s possible to heal and the process with all its “good times and bad times.” 

The album ends on an introspective note as Kadillac tenderly sings, “We both need a victory.”

At first listen, “The Happiness of Tomorrow” by Neon Dreams sounded like a stereotypical pop album, down to its pulsing beat and the use of autotune. However, packaged underneath the benign appearance is a band singing about the universal difficulties of adolescence.

Pop music is created to be commercial, and Neon Dreams has appealing melodies with heartfelt lyrics that will no doubt make them a commercial success, especially with a teenage audience. 

Through their name and music, Neon Dreams reminds their audience that just like neon, the luminous radiance of youth can be intimidating, but there is none that shines the brighter. 

By Cathy Li, Staff writer
Photo courtesy of That Eric Alper