Saturday 27 April 2013

The Neighbourhood - I Love You

Last year's Sweater Weatherfrom the California band's EP 'I'm Sorry', is by far the best track on 'I Love You', their debut LP.  Part hipster love song, part ode to Chris Isaak, it's The Neighbourhood's biggest hit and is accompanied by a moody black and white video that perfectly mirrors the inherent nostalgia of their sound.

The band's closest contemporary is Lana Del Rey, but with orchestral strings swapped for slide guitars. Their sound is similarly a blend of old and new - Californian rock and roll meets modern hip-hop beats and a vocal delivery that borders on rap.  Imagine The Beach Boys drenched in teenage, monochromatic melancholy.

And like Del Rey, The Neighbourhood's indie cool is aimed squarely at the mainstream.  This is, for all intents and purposes, a pop album.  The downbeat melodies and electronic drum beats accompany teenage heartache, whether cooped up alone in a bedroom or laid out beneath the sunset on a Californian beach.  The polished production might undermine the low-fi angsty tone, but the sound is immediately alluring.

Yet something about 'I Love You' rings hollow and it's due to the lyrics.  "You're too mean, I don't like you, fuck you anyway / You make me wanna scream at the top of my lungs", sings frontman Jesse Rutherford on Afraid.  Lines like this reek of childish petulance.  Attempts at metaphor also fall flat, such as "I'm fucked in the head, and my mind is turning into a whore" on W.D.Y.W.F.M.  And the opening lyrics of the album are "How could you question God's existence when you question God Himself?".  If I needed a lesson on Christianity I wouldn't be looking for it here, on an album that would make the perfect accompaniment to an episode of Skins.  

It's perhaps for this reason that Sweater Weather succeeds.  By keeping it's lyrical content simple (i.e sex), focus is placed on the song's dreamy melancholia and musical twist - clearly the band's strongpoint.


Gizzle's Choice:
* Sweater Weather
* Alleyways
* Float

Listen: 'I Love You' is available now.