The Neighbourhood, Hard – EP | Album Review
California alternative rock band The Neighbourhood are back! Last we heard from The Jesse Rutherford-led collective, they released their sophomore album, Wiped Out! in 2015. When reviewing that particular project, for Starpulse, I stated:
“Ultimately, The Neighbourhood clearly ‘steps its game up’ on album number two. ‘Wiped Out! isn’t a tour de force, but it’s certainly a sound, overall enjoyable album with some excellent moments.”
On their latest project, Hard – EP, The Neighbourhood seems to be ‘on to something.’ This five-track effort is an interesting affair, if nothing else.
“Roll Call” commences Hard with a dusty, throwback, soulful groove. Set in a minor key, it has a mysteriousness in regards to sound, which it maintains as a song itself. Frontman Jesse Rutherford matches the mysteriousness vocally. The first listen comes off incredibly strange; out of the box. “Roll Call” plays better with successive listens, however. The chorus is a selling point, despite its repetitive, simplistic nature.
“I wanna walk like me, I wanna talk like me / I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna be another.”
“You Get Me So High” plays out more ‘straightforward’ than “Roll Call.” It lacks the quirks that makes the listener take a double-take with the opener. It’s enjoyable and well-produced. Like “Roll Call,” the groove is central, with Rutherford giving a respectable vocal performance. Again, the chorus is simple, yet catchy.
“High all the time, high all the time / I wanna be high all the time / Would you come with me?”
The groove continues to ‘press on’ on the passionate “Noise.” The passion here isn’t love or sex, but rather examining the state of music, particularly the music industry.
“I thought I knew you but / I never knew you would turn us into animals / I don’t wanna be like you.”
A key line occurs on the second verse, where Rutherford seems to look back to the past to ‘real music’ as opposed to the ‘noise.’
“And now the kids are making noise because it’s just something to do.”
“24/7” incorporates some electronic cues into the mix, not to mention the signature hazy sound of The Neighbourhood. Again, the production – the vibe – stands out from the jump. Beyond the great sounds, the songwriting is interesting. The narrative follows “Daddy’s little girl” and “Mama’s little boy.” Ultimately, Rutherford asserts:
“…You can hit my line like 24/7, 24/7, 24/7 / I’ll be there to listen anytime.”
“Sadderdaze” concludes Hard exceptionally. The neatest aspect of the song is the wordplay, particularly its relevance to the message. This is a reminiscent number, which like “Noise,” references the music industry, but in a different respect. Here, Rutherford discusses the effects of success, yet, how he still unprotected from “sadder days.”
“Saturdays are not the same as they used to be / Sadder days, why do they keep on using me? / They keep on using me.”
All in all, Hard – EP ends up being a better effort than expected. The first listen made me a bit skeptical. While it was never ‘bad,’ it wasn’t surefire ‘good’ either. Successive listens, however, revealed more of the magic and vibes The Neighbourhood were going for. This is a positive step forward for the band.
Gems: “Roll Call,” “You Get Me So High” & “Sadderdaze”