I Love You.

The Neighbourhood

Columbia Records, 2013


REVIEW BY: Melanie Love


Just one glance at the cover of this album gives you a good sense of where The Neighbourhood is headed on their debut outing; the cloudy, sparse, black-and-white aesthetic perfectly mirrors the music contained within. It’s an eerie yet enveloping listen, bringing in elements of spacey ambience, hip-hop beats, and cold electronica; fleshed out by frontman Jesse Rutherford’s hazy, almost languorous vocals and the alternately melancholy and bitter lyrics, this disc finds the Southern California based group putting their own spin on indie rock in a way that sounds seamless.

From the first moments of opening cut “How,” The Neighbourhood brings you into their expansive sound, their well-paced world tricked out with dark swaths of instrumentation. While the lyrics here become a tad too straightforward in their existential musings, something that pops up throughout the album, Rutherford nevertheless manages to sell it when he pleads, “How can you tell me that I’m great? When they chew me up, spit me out, pissed on me.” The track ends on a sighing swirl of synth, moving quickly into the persecutory mood of “Afraid” and “Everybody’s Watching Me (Uh Oh).” Accented by slashing guitar riffs and cool stabs of drums, these cuts have a peppier sense, strangely upbeat amid the anger and paranoia of the lyrics. However, they seem to be like two halves of the same whole, and each is a little lessened as a result. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But it’s lead single “Sweater Weather” that has gotten the most attention from I Love You., and for good reason. Telling the story of a fumbling new love soaking up a cold day on the beach, the song is altogether charming, shaking off the earlier moodiness in favor of delicate tonal shifts, sweeping harmonies, and lazily strummed acoustic guitar. More simply put, “Sweater Weather” is the sun peeking through the clouds of I Love You., finding a way out of the darkness.

Other standouts here include the trippy, powerhouse beats of “Let It Go,” the thrumming bass on “Alleyways,” and the slow-burning “Flawless,” whose alternately muted and jaunty tone is intriguing. While some songs on the album tend to blend together, overtaken at times by the moody ambience, the moments when The Neighbourhood explores new avenues yield great results. “Staying Up” is utterly haunting, lines like “How can I sleep if I don’t have dreams? I just have nightmares / How can it be? /I still believe something is out there” delivered in Rutherford’s potent vocals acting as a beacon in the shadows.

Ultimately, I Love You. is an engaging listen throughout – like a foggy day in Southern California, it’s somehow all the more appealing for providing a break to the endless sunshine. The Neighbourhood inexorably draws you into their dark, weird, beautiful world; they have an ear for creating rich landscapes of sound, making this album a strong debut and a promising sign of what’s to come.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2013 Melanie Love and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia Records, and is used for informational purposes only.