As a band, Neon Trees is only slightly unique in relation to the growing genre of indie rock. Their synth-pop-rock sounds like the Strokes with some electronic drum beats and keys. Yet the lead track “Sins of My Youth” off their recent album “Habits” is a rare lyrical gem.

The song itself is an honest, drawn out, confession to a significant other of all the ways in which he has messed up his life. He sees his past as a youthful life that he regrets, he “had too much fun.” This isn’t an idealized retrospective that glosses over failure [unlike that painfully dishonest Ataris album, “So Long Astoria”]. No, as T.S. Eliot says, “Only by acceptance of the past can you alter its meaning.” Yet this past isn’t seen as sequestered from himself, his habits cannot be broken! Who he was is who he is.

What’s most surprising about this song is the fact that it is written at all. Why write a confession knowing that it may mean the end of love? Why not simply forget sins of the youth and move on? Why on earth did Richard Nixon confess to David Frost? The writer is compelled to confess to his significant other if his love is to be an authentic love which forgives his transgressions. For such a love, he willingly risks the status quo (would you love me still?). He deeply longs for absolution. For it to be real love, he must be loved as he is, some good, but mostly bad. She must love him as a sinner and not as the idealized person she may want him to be.

“The Sins of my Youth”

I’ve got these habits that I cannot
I’ve got these habits that I can’t
I’ve got these habits that I cannot break

I found life out on the weekdays
When we would drive to some new city
Call me crazy I was born to make a mess
Would you love me still if I were to confess
That I had a little too much fun
Back when I was young

I’ve got these habits that I cannot break
And as I’m older there is more at stake
Go ahead and call me fake but these are the sins
The sins of my youth
I break habits just to fall in love
But I do it on designer drugs
You can call me dangerous
But these are the sins, the sins of my youth

All these mainstream made emotions
Made me the boy that they wanted me to be
But when I took down my defenses
For the first time there was something in me
Yah something in me

Hot like a smoking gun back when I was young…

Would you love me still
Would you love me still
Would you love me still…