Anyone that follows or has a passing interest in The Neighbourhood will agree with me when I say, album number three should have been this band's game changer, otherwise they're doomed to be left behind as a footnote in music history, being exclusively known as the band that made Sweater Weather.
They're such a talented band with an ear for sound and production, and yet they constantly insist on shooting themselves in the foot with their releases. I mean, their debut I Love You. had such a great, original sound, and on occasion had excellent tracks, including their breakthrough Sweater Weather or Everybody's Watching Me for example, which personally speaking is a psychedelic masterpiece without being a psychedelic song. When they had hit the scene back in 2013, they had their own sound and you knew it was The Neighbourhood when you heard it; they just needed the songs to back that up. Their 2015 sophomore release Wiped Out! nearly fulfilled their potential, with real bangers like Prey, Daddy Issues, the title track, and Cry Baby. It was a good album with a small number of flaws, but nonetheless the right step forward. The band's brand of dark, R&B tinged alternative music had earned them a small cult of fans, but breaking beyond Sweater Weather has proven to be a real challenge.
Album number three should have been their game changer alright, yet upon listening to their self-titled album, it's like they stopped caring. This album is a mess, and worst of all, at times incredibly and inexcusably boring. The band made a good choice in expanding their sound by implementing 80s-esque synths for a number of the tracks here, but at times regress to the absolutely bare bones on this release, from a songwriting, production, lyrical, and performance perspective. There doesn't really seem to be much effort put into the track list either, as the songs don't really float from one another or form a totally cohesive theme. It literally sounds like a bunch of songs arbitrarily put together under the album name "The Neighbourhood", designed for the listener to pick and choose which ones they might like and add the odd one here and there in their personal playlist.
But this being The Neighbourhood, they have a natural ability to make great sounding music. The implementation of synths on tracks like Void, Stuck With Me (beautiful song), and Flowers is a total success and are the best tracks here. These songs also have good, memorable hooks. Nervous harkens back to their previous albums and sounds so unyieldingly chilled out it's alluring, and Softcore is the only song on the album with any hint of energy here, featuring a thumping beat and the aforementioned 80s synths... a tasty song that would sound great in a club setting. These, however, are the exception rather than the rule, as everything else is lethargic, disappointing, and directionless.
I wish nothing but the best for these guys but they have got to step their game up. It's a good album, but not good enough.