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On his first solo album away from fronting Provo-spawned band Neon Trees, Tyler Glenn has a lot to say about breakups both romantic and spiritual. Glenn came out as gay in 2014, and he's had a rather public feud with the Mormon faith he was raised in ever since, most notably this past April, when the video for his song "Trash" depicted Glenn spitting on an altered portrait of church founder Joseph Smith. The line between who Glenn was and who he's becoming could not have been more clearly drawn.
"Excommunication," available Friday, is a revelatory, demon-excising album that finds Glenn still wrestling with religion. God is name-checked everywhere. "G.D.M.M.L. Girls" details his struggle between the earthly and the spiritual "I've been freaking out 'cause I can't keep it up and I'm scared," he sings, the exhaustion of living as a closeted gay man (and his misdirected libido when he's locked inside it) clearly on display. "God didn't make me like girls. … God didn't give me alternatives." In "First Vision," Glenn sings, "I used to feel it, now I don't feel it at all. … My tears are dry and finally I feel 10 feet tall, darkness get behind me," alluding to that rush of self-realization when anyone gay first comes out to him- or herself.
But there are other men present on "Excommunication" besides Jesus. "Gods + Monsters" finds Glenn broken-hearted over a lousy boyfriend: "I believed in gods and monsters / Then I found out they're all impostors just like you." On "Waiting Around," built around a perfectly sunny pop riff, he's smitten with a guy who makes him "want to quit my day job, lose my inhibitions."
Yet Glenn doesn't just want to throw spiritual struggles in your face he wants you to dance, too, and the soul-baring lyrics are matched with plenty of stomping '80s-retro synths and beats that Neon Trees fans will find familiar. Ultimately, the dance floor is the church Glenn thinks everyone should belong to.
"I found myself when I lost my faith," he sings as the album winds up, a declaration that leaves you wondering, now that he's growing more comfortable in his recently outed skin, where is he headed next?