Let me start this by saying I have a history with The Neighbourhood. I found them when they were a secret band with no pictures or bio or anything at all, just a free download on their self-made website. I was drawn to their original aesthetic – black and white and honest. Now almost two and a half years later, the cat’s out of the bag. Fans know who each individual member is based on images alone and 10+ facts about each one. The Neighbourhood is a household name in alternative music today, and rightfully so – I mean, “Sweater Weather” went platinum last year. Fame however comes with its drawbacks, and the original drummer Bryan Sammis left the band. Huge sad face from me that day… I actually cried. He was my favorite member 😦 Sixteen year old me was in deep. After the departure of Bryan, they got a new drummer and then took a turn for the worse as they tried their hand at rap and made a mixtape called #000000 & #FFFFFF. Fans all over hated it, and they learned from their mistake and started working on album 2.
So, the anticipation for their second LP, Wiped Out!, was intense to say the least. They went on tour across the states in promotion of the new record prior to its release, and released promo videos for each song on Instagram, a little homage to the teasers on YouTube circa I Love You. era –hood. I managed to wait like a “true fan” until official release day on October 30th to hear this record, and here’s what I have to say about it.
I unapologetically love this record. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it because I was so strongly in love with the first album, and so strongly against the mixtape. Is “Moment of Silence” necessary? No. Do I still love the idea of it? Yes. The first track being silence allows the listener to focus in, and make sure they aren’t missing anything. “Prey” glides into the speakers with a nice fade in, and then it begins with a classic NBHD guitar riff. Jesse’s voice sounds right at home back in their alt-pop style, instead of straining to pull off rap. “Cry Baby” still holds true to their staple bass lines and riffs, making it the most similar to their songs from the first record.
“Wiped Out!” is a song that I had to listen to a few times to fully understand. I still don’t like the beginning, but the destruction of the song by guitar from middle to end is one of the most interesting points on the record. The band collectively pushes the limits of what sounds “good” as they destroy the song into an entirely new one. The breakdown allows space for a new melody, which is arguably better than the initial one. “The Beach” shows a more emotional side of Rutherford, but still holds true to their West Coast, California aesthetic. This song has actually been in the works for over two years, as they performed it as an untitled track at a show in June of 2013.
I never thought I would say this in my life, but “Daddy Issues” got me f***ed up. I love my dad in real life. We have a great relationship. He’s probably reading this right now. Hi Dad! But everything about this song is great. The bass line is so sexy, Jesse’s voice is beyond sexual in the verses, and the full band blossoming in the chorus is beautiful. I can’t stop listening to this track and the next two after it. “Baby Came Home 2 / Valentines” was my most anticipated track on the record. “Baby Came Home” off of their first EP I’m Sorry… is one of my favorites by the guys of all time, so the fact they were making a part 2 made me sooooosososo excited. And honestly, I’m a little disappointed by it. There’s not enough of the original and it’s too much on the verge of rap for me. I get shivers just thinking about Jesse rapping on the mixtape, and not in the good way. However, the rest of the band comes in and saves the track. The acoustic guitars are a nice touch, as the song progresses Jesse’s falsetto is to die for and his lyricism really improves throughout. The second half of this track is the better half, showing something I’ve never heard from them before, which is appalling because I’ve heard them do almost everything. It’s just a spacey, atmospheric, sample-heavy dream which leads to “Greetings from Califournia,” another dreamy, dark, and moody tune that is one of my other favorites. It took me a couple of listens to enjoy, but now I can’t stop listening. It has this creepy, stretched out hook that is so strange but so enticing. Jesse actually sings about something important too, which is always a plus. “Nobody’s leaving this room for a minute / Sick of the people who make the decisions” Jesse says, showing he’s actually tired of the boring people who rule the world, and that he wants to take control and not let them get to him anymore.
“Ferrari” is the black sheep of the record, with the hardest guitar sample that pierces your ears from the first second. I feel like they made this track entirely to play as the intro for their live show, as the rest of the track kind of simmers down after the first five seconds. “Single” pays another homage to the first album I Love You., as the tenth track also started with bells. This track is cute and half acoustic, which is something I really praise The Neighbourhood for exploring on this record. It shows a softer, more intimate side of them that I really appreciate.
The record ends with “R.IP. 2 My Youth” which is the most anthemic, radio-ready song of the bunch. It also contains on of the weirdest and most awkward drum lines I’ve ever heard. It’s such a simple, straightforward song and the verdict still isn’t out with me on this one. I don’t love it, but it also is the song that bridges the gap between the mixtape and this record. I do love the fact that the album version has another moment of silence at the end of it, just like the beginning of the record.
This album is meticulously thought out, just like all of the previous releases excluding the mixtape, which was always something I loved about this band. This album reinforces the original love I had for this group, and makes me proud of how much of a fan of them I once was. Although that fangirl craze I had for them is gone, I’m still so into this record and I’m excited for the future of this group, because this album is a trophy of making it through hard times, and producing something that is true to who they are.
ANNA KAPLAN | Ex-Hoodlum | KXSU Reporter