Columbia Records · March 09, 2018
As an avid fan of The Neighbourhood and someone who was waiting eagerly for the follow-up to their 2015 album Wiped Out!, listening to their new self-titled album the first time around was an experience that can only be described as painful. While wallowing in the angst-filled lyrics and melodies of their music may have been a therapeutic way to spend a few “edgy” high school years, after two full-length albums and a handful of EPs and mixtapes the effects of their melancholy sound start to wear off. While I will admit that by the fourth go around it grows on you a bit, you’re still left feeling empty and disappointed. Their prior work has always had a depressed and mopey sound, but it connected with listeners because it felt genuine whereas now the darkness feels almost forced. All the way from the first chords of ‘Flowers’ to the last track ‘Stuck with Me’ the album falls flat, with only a couple of exceptions that still feel pretty bland in comparison to most of their other work.
The album consists of ten tracks, four of which come from their previously released EPs Hard and To Imagine, and the “deluxe” edition just includes the six tracks from the EPs that weren’t included on the standard edition. The actual album content is a mix between songs about frontman Jesse Rutherford feeling inadequate and powerless in his relationship and songs where he criticizes his critics. Regardless of the differing themes the album discusses, the songs still seem to be expressing similar emotions like doubt, sadness, or irritation, which have become common themes across The Neighbourhood’s discography. One element The Neighbourhood seems to lack, however, is the sense of devotion to the music they’re creating that was very clearly felt in the past. Maybe it’s because this time around Jesse focuses on his current relationship rather than reflecting on past failed ones, but whatever it is something certainly feels missing.
All in all, The Neighbourhood isn’t necessarily a bad album, it just lacks an energy and passion from the band that fans have come to love over the years. There are a few tracks, though, such as ‘Revenge’ and ‘Softcore’ that feel more like their past work sound-wise, with the latter song even using some of the same chord progression that can be heard in ‘Wiped Out!’ from their previous album. Perhaps the point of the album was to emphasize how much Rutherford doesn’t care about making the kind of music people want him to, but unfortunately for him that’s how you sell records. There is nothing about this album that sets it apart from any other alternative or indie rock album. The beats, instruments, and voices are all nice, but it goes from track to track without any care for making a lasting impression on listeners, and after hearing the entire album 7 full times I still can’t differentiate one song from the next. As a fan of music I’m disappointed, and as a fan of The Neighbourhood I’m wary of whatever comes next.