The Neighbourhood - I Love You
2012 was a landmark year for Californian quintet The Neighbourhood. With a slew of lauded EPs and sporadic sold out shows, they were heralded as cult icons before even released a full-length record, garnering legions of fans ('Hoodlums') both sides of the pond and successfully weaving a lurid shroud of mystical mystery. Fast-forward to the present day, and the group eagerly/anxiously await the release date for their debut full-length (22nd April). They wield a brand of pop-noir popularised by Lana Del Rey and shared by contemporaries Blonds – it's distinctly American, no doubt about it, but the instagram haze, faux-60s rock'n'roll and swooping demonic synths hurl them towards a new direction. It's neo-rock, electro-Americana – the classic US fairytales of love and rebellion stand tall amongst bushels of smoky, sensual snippets of lust, angst and adolescent apathy.
I Love You, The Neighbourhood's first LP, seemingly concludes a trilogy of releases that started with Thank You and I'm Sorry..., the titles of which, when listed together, read like a break-up post-it. That jilted, sour heartbreak feeling is strong throughout the record and precursor EPs, so much so that it's almost vindictive and menacing. Though the smoggy muddiness is enveloped in red-light sexuality, there's a definite undercurrent of unpredictable threat, just waiting and lurking.
Big hit 'Sweater Weather', which recently soundtracked the ad for Playboy's new app, opens with 'Song 2' drums before launching into sparse surf-rock guitar and singer Jesse Rutherford drawling "All I am is a man, all I want is the world in my hands," and something about high-waisted shorts. The radio-static backed chorus is a paranoid barrage, Rutherford's pacey out-of-breath vocals attempting to escape the clicks of snare and doom-choir. 'Female Robbery' has been re-recorded from the version originally available, and now the church bell opening is accompanied by torturous sampled shrieks. It's a lethargic, maddening witch-hunt of a song, doused in hip-hop beats and luscious string waves. It's Lana Del Rey on PCP.
This record isn't just a swarm of rehashed b-sides, 8 of the 12 tracks are brand spankin' new. 'How' opens the record, a grim overture of wild samples and synths, like part of the OST to an apocalyptic horror flick. 'Alleyways' is a pensive spiel, nostalgia/regret-heavy and home to some of the most sombre chorus lines: "Whenever the sun came up we'd play/ we didn't want to get older/ I left myself in the alleyway/ we didn't want to get older." 'Float' has sonar synth and more surf guitar, frantic percussion and psychedelic vocals. It's more distant from the sound we're used to the band making - hope shimmers, for a start - and perhaps the experiment wasn't such a solid choice for ending the record on, but it's pretty good nonetheless.
The Neighbourhood are set to become a dominant force in the charts. Their sound is assuredly vogue, they're branded flawlessly and the aura of shadows is working like a charm – this is band simply doing everything right. The fact their music is actually very, very good can't be a bad thing either. It won't be long before they begin roaming around with the big dogs, and given their live show is famed for being downright awesome, it's probably best to try and sneak in the back of one of their sold-out gigs as they tour the UK during May. This band won't remain at this stage for very long – remember what happened with Bastille? One day they barely registered, the next they were storming the airwaves. The Neighbourhood are set to do the same thing.