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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

September 26, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Review: Angsty lyrics ‘wipe out’ band’s mellow sounds

"Wiped Out!"

The Neighbourhood

In its second full-length album, five-man band The Neighbourhood returns after its 2013 debut, “I Love You,” with much of the same substance disguised by a different style. Released Oct. 30, “Wiped Out!” has an indistinct, breezy style underpinned by the band’s characteristic angst and deviating from the grittier feel of the rest of its discography.

Unlike the band’s peak performance in its 2012 single “Sweater Weather,” The Neighbourhood fails to produce anything distinct in “Wiped Out!” What may be the album’s most memorable moment is its literal “A Moment of Silence” for an opening track. Calling it a moment is a bit misleading considering the track is 30 seconds long — just long enough for listeners to check their volume settings and headphones instead of paying attention to the song itself. The rest of the album is similarly defined by pauses and lingering endings. Even standout track “The Beach” ends with 15 seconds of ballooning silence that accomplishes only confusion at best and boredom at worst.

This obvious attempt at depth is off-putting, but not altogether surprising for a Los Angeles–based band that chose a name with a British spelling. What might be surprising, instead, is a tonal shift to softer, mellower sounds and tempos. Some songs in “Wiped Out!” borrow motifs from contemporary bands like Grizzly Bear and alt-J, but are unable to maintain their styles. Instead, musical tone wanes from The Neighbourhood’s earlier gutsy, edgy sound to a wavering rhythm-and-blues blend. Though “I Love You” received criticism for its overproduction, at least the more jangly tone, bolstered by deep guitars and driven forward by prominent percussion, didn’t fall as flat as the slow pace of most songs in “Wiped Out!”

For all that has changed with “Wiped Out!” the style of the lyrics is identical to the rest of The Neighbourhood’s work. The group is well-known for its faux fatalist lyrics, with many comparing frontman and main songwriter Jesse Rutherford’s work to what may be found in a teenage girl’s diary. For better or for worse, The Neighbourhood sticks relentlessly to its immature message — a comforting companion for misunderstood teenagers everywhere.

Mary Ford can be reached at mford1@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @therealmaryford