Up in the Clouds: A Review of The Neighbourhood’s Self-Titled Album

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As I’ve gotten more and more into alternative music, The Neighbourhood has quickly become a new favorite. Their sound is smooth and relaxing, Jesse Rutherford’s voice a soothing croon. This album in particular is actually a slight departure from their usual sound. In fact, listening to this album feels like being high on marijuana. Fittingly, the album even includes a song entitled “You Get Me So High.” You can just close your eyes and ride the self-titled wave.

So why is my review coming out now, when the album came out March 9th? Because I wasn’t into them a month ago and I am now. I could just not review it, but I really wanted to and so here we are. And now, here’s a track-by-track review of The Neighbourhood’s self-titled album:

  1. Flowers: Opening up the album, this song feels like it’s trapped in a fun house. It’s a synth-filled track, a callback to the ‘80s. Jesse hits some glorious high notes on this track, pulling you up into the clouds with him. The song addresses pressure put onto the band to be more mainstream, something these guys are not about. Autotune is artfully used to mock this notion, fittingly when Jesse sings, “Somebody has to do it/So I guess I will./You want more influence/ And I, I can be your flint.” It’s the chill-est kiss-off I’ve ever heard and one of my favorites on the album.
  2. Scary Love: Speaking of the ‘80s, this track dips heavily into the pop and new wave of the era. The song serves as a confession that Jesse doesn’t feel good enough for his partner and that love like this is intimidating, hauntingly delivered in a minor key. And, despite all that, the chorus to this song is the catchiest one on the album. It’s another easy favorite.
  3. Nervous: As close to a ballad as this album gets, this song is a perfect depiction of social anxiety and the pressure to be something you’re not. The vibe of this song calls to mind The Weeknd, so melancholic it’s irresistible. It’s the kind of song you don’t realize is getting under your skin until it’s already set up shop there. It’s another favorite of mine.
  4. Void: Another song steeped in the ‘80s, this one is a bona fide power ballad. Jesse’s pain is given to us through a filter, a thin layer of vocal effects draped over his voice. It’s a song about emptiness, a desperation for some kind of stimulation just to get by. The chorus has such a great groove, I can’t get over it. Another undeniable favorite.
  5. Softcore: This song is the peak of your trip on The Neighbourhood. Electronic beats punctuate the synths and Jesse’s voice is drowned in effects. However, rather than being annoying, it works really well for the song. The song is about loving someone so much it hurts and being willing to do anything for them. It’s such a jam and another favorite.
  6. Blue: This is a track full of hip hop influence. It’s also remarkably eerie, a euphemism-filled song all in minor key. It’s as frustrating as Jesse is frustrated. No wonder he’s feeling, er, blue.
  7. Sadderdaze: This dark, guitar-based song has a tone of almost gleeful mourning. The lyrics reflect on the band’s rise to fame and how things aren’t what they thought they’d be. It’s a “be careful what you wish for” scenario, and yet there’s a trapped feeling to it. Like the band knows they’ll never be able to quit. They’ve had a taste and can’t go back to having nothing. The song closes with childlike harmonies and gorgeous strings. It’s gloomy in the best way.
  8. Revenge: This is another track in which Jesse’s voice is barred by vocal effects, but this just heightens the twisted state he’s in. The song is dripping with anger and bitterness, a heavy base underscoring every point. This isn’t a threat of revenge, but a promise. Even though it’s almost terrifying (or perhaps because so), it’s another favorite.
  9. You Get Me So High: Another hip hop-influenced song, Jesse stays on his lower register the whole time. Lyrically, the song chronicles what happened between the band members after the surprise success of “Sweater Weather.” This track is also as close as the album gets to an anthem. It’s an excellent peak behind the curtains and another favorite.
  10. Reflections: This song is a drip from the faucet and a bubble bath all in one. This reflects the lyrics really well, as the song is about two broken people in love. Even though the song implies it won’t last, it takes its time getting to the end. This track is a clever exercise in musical theme.
  11. Too Serious: This nearly acoustic track places its emphasis on lyrics over anything else. It forces the listener to confront their own depression or anxiety the way Jesse had to. It’s deeply personal and moving, one of the most relatable tracks on the album.
  12. Stuck With Me: A drum-based power ballad, this song sits firmly in a place of nihilism. It’s about two jaded people who are sticking together by default. Well, they say it’s by default, but they love each other too. High-pitched harmonies deliver the catchy chorus. This is the rare song that manages to be deep and artsy, while also being catchy and poppy. It’s absolutely fantastic and a personal favorite.

Even though I’m three albums late, I’m glad I finally got into this band. Their lyrics really strike a chord with me. This album is so atmospheric, an experience unto itself. I cannot recommend it enough. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say this is the best release by a band so far this year! Excellent work from an excellent band. I can’t wait to see what they put out next.

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