After releasing their first EP ‘I’m Sorry…’ back in 2012, introducing the world to the iconic track ‘Sweater Weather’, California’s innovative dark pop group The Neighbourhood have taken the world by storm. Flash forward a few years, and the five-piece are now four EPs deep with their brand new addition, ‘Hard’. A well needed breath of fresh air, the 5-track effort remains comfortable in their noir, black and white aesthetic yet continues to put their sound forward.
Opening with the slow starting ‘Roll Call’, lead singer Jesse Rutherford sleepily sings about a little soldier that’s being controlled, put onto a field, and is being told to kill without question. Although The Neighbourhood have refrained in the past from commenting on anything political, the track explores thoughts about the injustices facing the world; the down beat and scratchy sounds portray an almost free and liberating feeling when listened to paralleling lyrics such as “I want to walk like me / I want to talk like me.”
Keeping in tune with their nostalgic sound, including a hazy, plunging bass and tunnel effect on the vocals, the song pushes the band lyrically whilst maintaining the sound that has come to be expected of The Neighbourhood.
Later numbers such as ’24/7′ follow in the band’s traditional and already firmly established style, incorporating electronic samples with bass and percussion. The modernity in this track presents similarities to indie bands such as The 1975 and rising pop-rock giants like Twenty One Pilots.
The music continues to pick up tempo-wise as the musicians emulate the sounds of earlier alternative rock in ‘Noise’, a track about growing up to question those you’ve idolised in the past. It’d work perfectly in an adolescent coming of age movie soundtrack, with both its impressive lyrics and moody melody.
Closing the whole thing off with ‘Sadderdaze’, we return to the slower tempo of the EP’s opener, with the strings evoking a feeling of completion, bringing the release to the perfect ending. Alluding to the struggles of adjusting, this finale is an excellent play on words, encapsulating the feelings felt when listening to this track.
From start-to-finish, The Neighbourhood have created a solid EP that has an incredible sound. Each offering here is equally as captivating as the next, with both a comforting yet experimental sound.