A presentable taster for a band who may well expand their palette in 2013.
Mike Diver 2012-10-05
Active since 2011, Californian quintet The Neighbourhood have enjoyed something of a buzzy yet below-the-radar existence. Blogs have approved of their tracks Sweater Weather and Female Robbery, and tipsters are preparing to list them as contenders in 2013.
But should we all, perhaps, just take a step back from the coalface of hype? In doing so, one finds that The Neighbourhood aren’t quite as cool as they, or rather those working their cause, might think.
In fusing accessible indie-goes-pop-rock with hip hop-hued beats, and with a frontman in Jesse Rutherford who has a rap background but is now playing strictly to the mainstream, they come close to resembling the mall-rock likes of Maroon 5 or The Script. Albeit for both the hipster pack and supermarket-sweepers alike: no bad thing, then, but hardly an original proposal.
Theirs is an initially appealing, shiny sound, but it’s one that feels done to near-death already. As accomplished, as catchy as a cut like Female Robbery is – very, on both fronts – one can’t help but feel slightly soporific come its conclusion. Familiarity doesn’t breed contempt, necessarily, but fatigue is a hazard here.
Said opener ripples with the same samples-riddled rhythms as Lana Del Rey’s Video Games, dive-bar grit in its boots and swagger in its hips. Newsbeat referred to the track as “a ghostly slice of RnB” in September 2012, and it’s a fair assessment: there’s something spectral about the eerie synths and background yelps.
Leaving Tonight is rather more rock-flavoured – think first-album Muse with the sci-fi frolics detuned into heartbroken blues. Wires slinks to some silky guitar tones, Rutherford adopting a raspy rap vocal – although, again, it recalls a track this writer can’t put his finger on with its “Whoa-oh oh-a-oha” backing.
Sweater Weather is the obvious standout, stuttering of percussion and love-struck of lyric, plaintive acoustic strums contrasting digital crunches.
I’m Sorry… is a presentable taster for a band who may well expand their palette in fascinating ways in 2013, but it lacks one true moment of standalone magic. In an industry of precious few second chances, one hopes The Neighbourhood delivers with their forthcoming debut album.