The Neighbourhood attempts to redefine image with second album

Chris Duncan

With its 2013 debut album I Love You., California’s five-piece band The Neighbourhood kicked off its mission to make its dark R&B-alternative rock combo a hallmark in popular music. Two years later, very little has changed, and its most recent project Wiped Out!, released Friday, presents a similarly brooding style with mixed results.

Most fans of The Neighbourhood likely discovered the group through its hit single “Sweater Weather,” a song that exploded in popularity during the early months of 2013 because of its catchy chord progressions and echoed ambiance. However, the band’s full-length release revealed angst-ridden lyrics and a heavy production style, almost nothing like the affable sound in “Sweater Weather.” 

In Wiped Out!, released Friday, the band sticks to its guns, attempting to expand further on its bleak aesthetic, but it falls short of its lofty goals because of poor production choices and unbearable lyrics.

Other artists, including Lana Del Rey and the xx, have experimented with the increasingly popular moody and dark R&B, but The Neighbourhood commits to the genre fully. Aside from calming acoustic moments in the beginning of a couple of songs, each track is built around downtempo beats from the band’s producer Justyn Pilbrow. 

The band opens up its album with a 30-second  track titled “Moment of Silence,” which is exactly what it sounds like. The Neighbourhood might have had good intentions when they decided to include this moment of silence, but it came off as an awkwardly pretentious statement.

The album’s best moment is easily “Prey,” a track full of heavy atmospheric production and echoing instrumentation. Lead singer Jesse Rutherford’s lyrics tie the overall feel of the song together well. This combination of production and vocals would work for the rest of the album’s tracks, but the other songs on the album don’t seem to reach the bar “Prey” set.

Although there are nine other tracks, they’re either overproduced or contain poorly written lyrics. “Cry Baby,” the LP’s third track, combines weird buzzing sounds and vocal effects that make the song an uncomfortable endeavor to listen to. This low-register buzzing noise continues to lurk in the background of other tracks, ruining many of the distinguishing qualities of each song. “Greetings from Califournia” contains an odd but intriguing mix of percussive elements, but halfway through the track, a buzzing noise appears and ruins everything the track had going for it.

Some songs have quality production, but suffer from horrendous song writing. During the project’s sixth track “Daddy Issues,” Rutherford sings, “Baby, I can’t help but call her dad, even though I shouldn’t say it.” Almost every lyric in this track could have been used in a deranged manifesto.

By the end of one listen, it’s obvious that The Neighbourhood thrives on angsty lyrics and dark moods, but Wiped Out! lacks loud and boisterous moments to shows the band’s artistic progression. Wiped Out! might as well be a sequel to I Love You., suffering from its timid presence and an easily forgettable listening experience.