Critical Voices: The Neighbourhood, Hard

September 29, 2017

“Sweater Weather” is definitely in the air, not only because it is officially fall, but because The Neighbourhood recently released their new EP, Hard, on September 21. The California-based band dropped the EP unannounced almost three years after the release of their second full-length album, Wiped Out!

On Hard, the band experiments with new electronic beats while infusing their signature dark alternative sound. Although the band is presenting a new style in this EP, it is still too early to tell if this will take them in a completely new direction with their music. While their past albums touched on topics such as love and loneliness through word play, rhymes, and meaningful lyrics, this EP seems to be lacking lyrically both in the subject matter of the songs and in the way the messages are delivered.  

“Roll Call,” which begins the EP, presents a weird fusion of sounds which ultimately do not blend well together. The extreme use of autotune in some of the verses can be off putting. Even though the song is more enjoyable the second time around, listening to it is like waiting for a good musical breakdown that never comes.

“You Get Me So High” and “24/7” showcase a slight change in the The Neighborhood’s signature sound by adding some electronic beats. If the band’s purpose was to create catchy songs with some noticeable rhythms, they succeeded. The constant rhyming in “You Get Me So High” and the addicting lyrics in “24/7” definitely provoke a replay.

“Noise,” on the other hand, most resembles the band’s style with its more personal lyrics and use of guitar. The lyrics “I remember growing up mama used to sing me the blues / And now the kids are making noise just because it’s something to do,” touch on the evolution of the music industry.

Out of all the songs in the EP, “Sadderdaze” was the best pick to finish it. Although it carries a lighter sound than expected, the mix of instruments and the play on words (“Saturdays” vs. “Sadder days”) produce a nice flow. The choir in the end, however, is a little cringey and frankly, unnecessary. Still, the song is one of the most memorable from the EP.

Overall, Hard is an interesting look into what the band has been working on the past three years. Although I personally prefer their past two albums, I acknowledge their attempt to step out of their musical comfort zone, and I look forward to hearing their third album.

Voices’ Choices: “You Get Me So High,” “Noise,” and “Sadderdaze”

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