Album Review: Tyler Glenn – ‘Excommunication’

Tyler Glenn is one of those people who you can just turn their records on and find some guidance, which is probably why he has always been one of my favorite people in music. His passion, his talent and his honesty have always made me gravitate towards him as he understands all too well what it means to feel different while clinging to the music to help him heal. The man just has a way with words that manages to paint such intense imagery – some I could never form on my own, despite how simple he makes it look – that it’s impossible to look away. From his work with Neon Trees to his newly released solo effort, Excommunication, Glenn is that underrated powerhouse the music industry needs yet unfortunately, tends to look over. Hopefully with a record like this under his belt, that will all change.

In Excommunication, Glenn shares his personal stories of heartbreak and probably the biggest one of all, his crisis of faith that occurred when he left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) after it announced a new policy last year that stated those in a same-sex marriage were identified as apostates. Mormonism had been Glenn’s foundation his entire life so needless to say, after coming out as gay in 2014, this deeply hurt as he was left in a state of utter disbelief.

Though Glenn and I are different, with this record, we are one and the same as he expresses thoughts I’ve often had myself during my own faith crisis within the past year. Though I’ve learned that the way religion portrays itself isn’t who God really is, there’s no denying the sense of feeling like an abomination to your own kind for rebelling against what is unjust. We are often expected to just sit down and obey what we are told but it doesn’t have to be that way.

In an age of mindless Top 40 hits that all sound the same, it’s rather thrilling to have an album where the audience is focusing more on lyrical content, but that doesn’t mean you should discount the exceptional elements of pop, electronic and 80’s sensibilities – something the singer has been passionate about on Neon Trees records and one that he experiments with so well. Excommunication is about sharing those unpopular thoughts and opinions that, in this day and age, will most likely offend the masses. The best part is, he doesn’t give one single fuck!

‘Controversial’ is probably a buzz word you’ll hear a lot about this record, but all I hear is raw honesty and it’s about damn time! “G.D.M.M.L. GRLS” (God Didn’t Make Me Like Girls), “Trash” and “Shameless” being prime examples of what it means to lose yourself all while finding your truth in the music – a running theme throughout the record – while “Gods + Monsters” is as liberating as it is telling, making it a personal album highlight along with “Gates” and the John Hughes-esque “First Vision.”

We don’t fully experience the most powerful moments of the record until closing tracks, “John, Give Em Hell” and “Devil” – the latter sharing the entire sentiment of Excommunication as Glenn sings, “I found myself when I lost my faith.” A line like that packs a punch no matter what you believe but one necessary to continue a journey of questions and self-discovery.

It’s humbling when artists push through what the masses want to hear by making us uncomfortable for a bit; making us feel things we tend to push aside because it’s not convenient (see: Garbage’s Strange Little Birds). Sometimes it’s hard to decipher what an artist wants a listener to feel while experiencing a record but with this gem, it’s pretty clear what Glenn wanted to communicate. I felt it all and I felt it all at once; from pain to anger to rejection even to confusion. I think it’s safe to say, mission accomplished.

Excommunication is available now here.