A wake for the present, a coffin fashioned from the bones of the Malibu beach, The Neighbourhood’s sophomore album Wiped Out! simplifies the band’s gothic souls and reveals another side of their broody sound.
“A Moment of Silence” is the first track on the album. Thirty seconds of silence, 30 seconds of secrecy, 30 seconds to wonder where the unorthodox California band will take you and whose funeral you’re going to be attending.
It’s not “who” are we mourning for but “what.”
A funeral for the obscurity of the mind, for the quicksilver nature of youth, the disloyal essence of the human soul, the matter of existence.
Lead singer Jesse James Rutherford speaks to his family members in the song, telling them not to be sad, that he will “be in Paradise with dad,” ending with “I need a cigarette.”
Maybe ending the album with this single was intentional. Starting with 30 seconds of silence and ending with a funeral, the songs in-between catalogue the events that have unfolded up until that point.
The band’s second album does not feature any explicit language, but there are explicit themes tucked into the folds of several tracks, such as addiction, daddy issues and possibly pedophilia.
“Single” opens with a xylophone solo, tying into the lyrics “can you let your baby be mine?” to conjure up a sort of childhood theme. Listeners are left wondering if Rutherford is referencing a baby girl who he is attracted to and waiting for, or if “baby” is just the pet name for the woman he is infatuated with.
In their previous album, the band included a xylophone intro in “Staying Up” but it was more polished unlike in “Single” where the sound is more gritty and upbeat.
“The Beach” is nothing like “Sweater Weather,” which is what I was expecting. Instead, “The Beach” is a shameful acceptance of using someone who you love. Rutherford claims that dependence is making both lovers sick and causing them to fall into the depths of the ocean.
“I can admit, I am not fireproof … I hope I don’t murder me, I hope I don’t burden you” are the lines that struck me like lighting. The songwriting pummels on the labyrinth of guilt, rebuilding a more permanent feeling of shame.
Even while singing about abandonment or wanting to fly as high as the sky, the band manages to find a way to make the sound feel breezy and dance-worthy. The more relaxed tone can be found on tracks like “Prey,” which features a more surf-rock, grunge style.
Lyrics like“I feel like prey, I feel like praying” tap once more into that feeling of not knowing where the road will take you.
The song titles are consistent with the band’s vagueness and originality. “Ferrari,” which is one of my favorite tracks, uses the “new yellow Ferrari from the 90’s” to symbolize Rutherford’s desire to escape the hypocrisy of his lover, branding the words “I met her at church but she could be Satan” across the hood of the car.
Typical sounds of southern California, like the sound of the ocean, were scattered throughout “Greetings from Califournia,” which felt like it could have been transformed into a rap song with its hip-hop beat.
The rest of the songs sort of blur together, making it seem like the band purchased the same everlasting roll of fabric when making this album. I expected more from the group that weaves hip-hop, indie rock and distorted pop as easily as breathing.
It feels like The Neighbourhood kept on sewing and ripping the material apart, cutting it into tiny pieces and making a map that instead of featuring the entire world, only showed one specific area, a Califournia drenched in fog and wearing a cloak of defeated darkness.
Featured Photo Credit: Sept. 30 /9:30 Club – Jesse Rutherford, singer for the Neighbourhood, leaves his sunglasses on for the entire performance. The white lights and the explosions on the screens behind him lit up the entire room. (Julia Lerner/Bloc Reporter)
Karla Casique is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.