Release Date: April 23, 2013
Reviewed By Evelyn Miska Krieger
It isn’t too often that a moody album really works in a striking way and doesn’t just sound depressing, but The Neighbourhood’s debut release, I Love You, manages to do just that. Despite the fairly consistent tempos, often dark lyrics and generally morose sound, The Neighbourhood somehow comes across as fairly sexy in spite of it all. While much of this has to do with lead singer Jesse Rutherford’s voice, the layer upon layer of guitar, drums and other electronica work together to create some unforgettable songs.
Beginning with “How,” one immediately gets a good sense of the type of mood I Love You is trying to set. As on many tracks, Rutherford’s vocals are a bit androgynous that makes for an unusual sound and works quite nicely. The song itself has a moderate pace but the many, many layers keep things from being too simplistic. Similarly, “Afraid” treads a careful line between rap and pop and while the verses have an almost chanted rhythm, that cadence is a good juxtaposition with the atmospheric sounds weaving through the background.
At this point much of the Western world has heard “Sweater Weather” on the radio and the popularity of the track makes a great deal of sense. It’s sexy, romantic without being sappy, and still has a good edge and beat to it. Additionally, there’s some good harmony and imagery going on throughout the lyrics which certainly puts The Neighbourhood above a lot of other pop groups who seem to just string words together.
The album rounds out with “Float” which is a great track in terms of how well the band plays with tempo and rhythms. Key shifts mirror the change in temperament expressed in the lyrics and the pacing doesn’t vary too much, but just enough to, again, add emphasis to certain parts of the song.
Yes, all the songs are moody and, for the most part, dark, but that doesn’t mean I Love You is a depressing album. Sometimes its nice to wallow a little but the skill with which the songs were written and the variation in sounds and style make up for the fact that it could have been a very depressing album. Instead, The Neighbourhood has pulled together a sound that is unique (rare in this day), lyrics that are just the right amount of clever and enough sexiness to keep things interesting.