Typically when a band, such as The Neighbourhood, choose to self-title an album, it signals either a re-branding or further solidifies how the band wants to be perceived from this point forward. This album (which is their third full-length LP) falls into the latter category as it thoroughly solidifies the type of music that The Neighbourhood have grown into. The album as a whole focuses on the band’s strengths: gloomy themes, synth-laden riffs, and outstanding vocals from front-man Jesse Rutherford.
The promotional approach for this album was different than what they had tried in the past, as they released two EPs (Hard & To Imagine) leading up to the release of the full-length. This creative approach of teasing the new styles and themes they were experimenting with gave their fans a glimpse into the creative process that went into this album. The lazy approach of releasing two EPs and having the same exact songs and sequencing on the album is not in this band’s DNA, as they have chosen the very best of the EPs content and created an album worth multiple repeat listens.
The album starts off on a bright note with the shiny “Flowers,” which features brilliant falsetto vocals in the verses leading to a catchy chorus. This lead-off track sets the table nicely for the lead-off single “Scary Love,” which is one of the best songs in the band’s hit-laden catalog to date. The aforementioned single hits all the right notes and shows the direction the band wants to take the listener through on the rest of the LP. “Nervous” is also sequenced perfectly on this album which flows beautifully and could have easily found its way onto the band’s “beachy” Wiped Out! album.
The middle of the record, which features the synth-pop of “Void,” sounds like it could’ve been written by Beach House, and “Softcore” has the vibe of the soundtrack to Drive with its stop-start vocal approach and heavy synths throughout. It’s easy to see the influence that 80’s pop has had on this band, but they have found a way to modernize this style into a fresh artistic statement.
The later stages of the album slow down the tempo of the earlier tracks, however the atmospheric approach of songs like “Blue” and “Sadderdaze” paint the picture of a band making every single note count. It was almost as if the band knew this album could potentially make or break their audience, and they have taken full advantage of the opportunity here. My personal favorite on the album, “Revenge,” won me over on realizing this band’s potential and staying power in my regular album rotation.
By the time the listener gets to the final track “Stuck With Me,” the album has already made the listener think about revisiting this LP sooner rather than later. The Neighbourhood showcases a band that is not only comfortable with who they are, but an artist that is dedicated to improving on their strengths rather than worrying about reinventing themselves in order to stay relevant in today’s music scene.