The Neighbourhood’s ‘Wiped Out!’ is an eclectic, beachy album
The Neighbourhood’s sophomore album combines experimental alternative rock and seaside vibes.
If five-member alternative rock band The Neighbourhood had to be described in one word, it would be “quirky.”
Despite being from California, they chose to use the British spelling of “Neighbourhood.” They insist they are only allowed to be photographed in black and white. Now, their sophomore album “Wiped Out!” continues this trend of eccentricity by beginning with a track entitled “Moment of Silence,” which really is just 30 seconds of silence.
Although the band and their admittedly strange choice of an opening track are quite off-kilter, it’s not hard for fans of alternative music to find something to like about “Wiped Out!” The album relies on heavy use of both bass guitar and drum, along with electronic instruments, to create a very atmospheric tone. Hip-hop influences also add another layer of complexity. The rock music manages to create an ambiance that sounds like summer but still feels melancholy.
While the band stated in their popular hit “Sweater Weather,” off their first album, that they “hate the beach,” the beach seems to be the theme of the record. The first audible track, “Prey,” starts with a beachy guitar riff and evolves into a song that could easily fit in at a seaside club for indie-loving spring breakers. “Baby Came Home 2 / Valentines” ends with two minutes of ambient shore sounds overlayed by tropical-sounding drums and the calming strum of an electric guitar.
The theme goes beyond just these tracks. If the palm tree and wave-adorned album artwork wasn’t enough, there’s even a track called “The Beach.” This slower song begins and ends with ambient noise, and everything in-between is about lovelife struggles. “Daddy Issues” drives home the theme, beginning with ocean waves playing over the music.
Upbeat tracks like “Cry Baby” and “Wiped Out!” stand out in the first half of the album. The former focuses on the use of layered vocals and a driving bass line. The title track of the album works with a more eccentric combination of sounds. The song starts out normally and makes use of a cute electronic riff. Then, the song switches into a half-time tempo, which is a great effect. Soon enough, the singing gives way to a guitar solo that starts sounding like a siren as intense static covers up the rest of the music. For lovers of experimental music, this is a track to check out, but it might be too unconventional for those who prefer mainstream music.
The contrasting slower songs on the album are also quite enjoyable. “Baby Came Home 2 / Valentines” begins with nothing but an acoustic guitar and lead singer Jesse Rutherford retelling a personal story to a simple melody. The main instruments used in “Single” are an acoustic guitar, a light electric guitar and a percussion instrument that sounds exactly like a toy piano. The combination provides a unique backdrop for the song about Rutherford’s infatuation with his girlfriend. Another slow track near the end of the album is “Ferrari,” the track in which hip-hop influences are most apparent.
“Wiped Out!” ends with “R.I.P. 2 My Youth,” an apt closer because of how many staples of The Neighbourhood’s style it has. A strong bass drum keeps beat and the use of layered instruments creates a melancholy atmosphere. The Neighbourhood also frequently sings about saddening subjects, and “R.I.P. 2 My Youth” certainly exemplifies that with topics like death, the loss of innocence and grief.
“Wiped Out!” makes use of beachy themes, heavy bass beats and atmospheric tone to make an album that’s a cross between Arctic Monkeys’ “AM” and The Weeknd’s “Beauty Behind the Madness.” “Wiped Out!” makes for a good collective experience—but unless you’re a big fan of the the Neighbourhood’s style, it might be an album you just want to get a few favorites from instead of purchasing as a whole. However, fans of experimental alternative rock will certainly find something to love.
MOVE gives “Wiped Out!” 4 out of 5 stars.