Months have gone by with minimal contact from The Neighbourhood, of which were cryptic monochrome graphics shared on their Instagram. After the final tour for their sophomore album, Wiped Out!, The Neighbourhood essentially pulled away from the spotlight to work on new music, some of which has just been released on their surprise EP, Hard.
The five tracks in the EP have built upon their old sounds. The tremendous influences from R&B and hip-hop that are met with Jessie Rutherford’s original love for pop music as a kid, a unique blend that creates this overarching sense of direction for the band. Being known for many of the same infectious melodies and guitar sounds, the band has explored the electronic realm and introduced synth to create greater dimension, which seems to be the alternative trend. The West Coast, SoCal inspired band has brought back what they do best: haunting guitars and a moody, frigid seductive collection of songs that satisfy what any fan has been looking for since their last release in 2015.
The Neighbourhood jumps into the EP with a slow tempo track, Roll Call, that discusses the fight in staying true to oneself and being unique, whether that be simply standing out in society or producing music that isn’t just what the music industry wants. Echoing lyrics in the bridge of the song portray just the thoughts that might be running through Rutherford’s head in this fight for identity. With questioning the issue of not changing for the industry, the band confronts the problem head-on in the third track, Noise. While continuing with the same heavy and haunting guitar, a continuous drum line helps in creating the story of how the business can spoil those that are unique, forcing the mainstream sound. Many of these songs are meaningless, addressing drugs and money rather than important issues, and as the title says, they are just noise.
24/7 is the most experimental track on the EP, dabbling in an electronic, rapid overlay of tempos that recounts different situations in which people are consumed by worrying about time. Similar to how W.D.Y.W.F.M? starts, the song begins with a bold guitar sequence. Rutherford declares that you must slow down and enjoy the one life you’re given. Unexpected success of Sweater Weather as a double-platinum song is discussed in You Get Me So High and carried by the rhythmic instrumentation and vocal melody, which are reminiscent of their first album, I Love You. For the final track, a lighter sound that does not deviate from the same themes of darkness, Sadderdaze, has an original hip-hop back track with acoustic guitar accompanied by a beautiful orchestration that eventually exits on a sinister note. It’s suggested that life changes with fame and sadness is still experienced, but the nature is completely different.
Considering the countless pieces of work released by The Neighbourhood since the start, whether it be on SoundCloud or Spotify, the sound has not necessarily changed; rather it has been strategically built upon. There is a recipe to their music that is perfect and satisfies all people who are listeners of their hip-hop influenced alternative-rock. Shows are slowly being released by the band, the next of which will be in Mexico and Texas in December. It is only a matter of time before we hopefully get a full US tour to experience the additions to The Neighbourhood’s discography.