When Californian dark pop group The Neighbourhood surprise released their five-track ‘Hard’ a few months back, it signalled a slight change in sound from their previous efforts. With a more progressive rock and indie vibe, anticipation was high for its follow-up. ‘To Imagine’ sees the band experiment further with an 80s vibe and electro-pop sounds. The EP travels through various soundscapes, yet still incorporates a dark mood that we’ve come to identify with The Neighbourhood as a band.
Beginning with ‘Dust’, the mood is set when it immediately creates a thudding bass line accompanied by frontman Jesse Rutherford‘s plodding vocals. The juxtaposition between his dry voice and the massive chorus makes this an interesting sound, and one that will sound incredible live. With lyrics revolving around tired romantic themes, each song is lyrically connected. Both ‘Heaven’ and ‘Compass’ similarly touch upon being in a vulnerable state and looking for re-assurance. The former, however, employs a new style of sound through melodic rapping, similar to that of hip-hop artist, Blackbear. A slight diverge in sound in the middle of the EP keeps listeners engaged and highlights the band’s talent and diversity.
Perhaps the most interesting cut here is their latest single ‘Scary Love’. Heavy on the synthesizers and moody vocals, the track gives off a dark and seductive energy, sounding similar to old releases and more inclusive to their traditional style. With incredible production, it keeps a punchy beat yet the dark and personal lyrical content provides a breakthrough, touching on relationship doubts. It’s a unique twist that showcases the band#s versatility in terms of song content whilst still retaining some of the angst edge that makes The Neighbourhood great.
Credit is due for The Neighbourhood in challenging the ideas of what an alternative rock band can sound like. Mixing both heavier production with deeper lyrics, rock is no longer limited to one specific genre. Ending the EP with ‘Stuck With Me’ reinforces this; it’s a slow burner that opens with soft atmospheric synths before incorporating an upbeat chorus, mixing up production style throughout.
From start-to-finish, the band have created a solid record that has an incredible, versatile sound. Each track is equally as captivating as the next, with incredible vocals and production, proving that once again The Neighbourhood can deliver a powerful EP. ‘To Imagine’ is a stellar effort following on from last year’s ‘Hard’, and ensures that the future is bright (or dark, which is just how they like it) for the Californian rockers.
Written by Hannah Strong (@hannaah_strong)