To some, it may seem surprising to see The Neighbourhood release a self-titled album 7 years into their musical career together. Critics have called out the indie-rockers for making an attempt at tiding their career over with their relatively well-known name until they can come up with better material. Their third record may not be earth-shattering, but it’s clear that reviewers have called them out rather harshly for choosing to branch out into a different, darker, more electro style than previous music (spoiler alert: there’s some R&B in there too).
If you’re looking for another ‘Sweater Weather’, don’t bother giving this album a listen. Their most popular song shot the into fame with it’s peppy, indie/pop melodies reminiscent of some of the 1975’s more upbeat songs. But ‘The Neighborhood’ is a far cry from those days. Darker, broodier, with a whole lot more electro and synth, the band has taken a clear step in a new direction. Their attempt to infuse a new genre in their discography is a success in some cases (listen to: Void, Softcore, Nervous, Too Serious), but falls short in other cases too (You Get Me So High, Sadderdaze).
If I’m being completely honest, you may not love this album when you listen to it at first. But the good news is you’ll find a few gems spread throughout. When I saw their name pop up on Spotify, I was ready to immediately love the record from start to finish. It took a couple tries to find some tracks that really stood out, particularly because the overall sound is such a drastic move away from the smooth indie/alternative, slightly infused pop from their debut.
Pro tip: don’t turn on ‘The Neighbourhood’ until you’ve set aside all your preconceived notions of what it may sound like. Skip the first song ‘Flowers’. With its heavy-synth debut and dream-pop chorus, it doesn’t suit the mood for the rest of the record (nor does it do it any justice). Do yourself a favor and jump to the third song, ‘Nervous’. Slightly more reminiscent of The Neighborhood circa 2013, this track easily hit my top favorites.
Let’s skip over the ‘don’t bother listening to’ tracks, and talk a bit more about the good ones. ‘Void’ is an electro inspired, kinda broody *almost* love song. The album speaks more to lust than it does love, but vocalist Jesse Rutherford does the sentiment justice in his straightforward lyrics.
Softcore is somewhere between The Neighbourhood’s old sound and their new sound, and that’s why I especially love it. Rutherford struggles with the comfort of the same person and breaking free to live more wildly and freely. Rutherford’s simple but honesty lyricism, mixed with the smooth electro chorus makes up for the rather emotionally immature lyrics of the track.
If you want to discover The Neighbourhood’s new R&B sound, give ‘You Get Me So High’ a listen. Unfortunately, it fell rather short me for (both lyrically and sound-wise). Probably because I’m not interested in hearing R&B when I turn on the Neighbourhood, but also because it doesn’t suit the alternative/indie melodies also present in the track.
The Neighbourhood has definitely been known to release better music than their self-titled record, but I’ll give them credit for trying new things with their sound. Although, if they asked, I’d probably recommend sticking to what has worked for them in the past.
Give the album a try, and add your faves to a personal playlist on Spotify. You probably won’t listen to the whole thing on repeat, but it’s definitely still worth your time for the good ones.
Rating: 3/5 stars
LISTEN to ‘Nervous’:
FOLLOW The Neighbourhood: