Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Neighbourhood // Wiped Out! - Review

The Neighbourhood are a lucky band. When they released a demo of 'Sweater Weather' and 'Female Robbery' back in early 2012, they couldn't possibly have known the rise to popularity they were going to experience. Now, their gigs are full of girls screaming their name. Putting aside the topic of love and romance that pleases their screaming majoritarily female fanbase, they had to follow up their debut 'I Love You' with a more mature record, one that can both expand their fan base and tell everyone that doubted their dark pop, indie credentials that they really mean business.

Credits: @thenbhd Instagram

The lead single 'RIP 2 My Youth' certainly sends a message out. The dark topics of loneliness and the feeling of youthfulness escaping Jesse, the singer, continues. Bleak and entirely unabstract, the song details how they are willing to move on from the opportunities life presents in the teenage years, and accept adulthood - even if they admit this by referencing Channel perfume. Accepting "there's only so much I can do", the band decide to present this concept-inducing single right at the end of the album. I for one cannot remember the last album I listened to that had it's lead single finishing the album. Before listening to the album, I fully expected this to hinder the flow of the album, as what was coming was known. However, it draws a fulfilling close to the album's theme and auditory experience. They pull this off because a) it isn't the best song on the album and b) they haven't stuck it in the third quarter, which usually serves to provide an inkling of hope that the rest of the album is utterly brilliant. The Neighbourhood need not, this album doesn't need gimmicks.

But, apparently they do. 'The Beach' was the next single to be released off the album, and with it came a weird, heavy-handed promotion of a production duo that worked on the song. This always strikes me as odd, as it is an album and should be a package; not bits tied together with different authors and handlers. Did they just boost the bass on the song? We'll never know, perhaps. It doesn't really matter, as 'The Beach' is easily one of the most catchy and interesting songs on the album lyrically and sonically, with a very dark exterior. Darker topics have always been their favourite, whether it be cloaked in minor key music or cloaked underneath lyrically. The theme of losing someone, and trying to keep that person in the first place, runs throughout the record. The opening lines express concern for the level of lust between the two of them: "If I told you that I loved you, tell me, what would you say? If I told you that I hated you, would you go away?" The concern for his love going unoticed is entirely unselfish, and a nice touch to add to a commercially packed album.

The album has far less of an electronic tinge to it than their previous releases. Perhaps their mixtape released last year was done as they knew the direction they were heading in and got out of the way their samples and beats lined up. Whilst slightly disappointing, the album has more of a pop feel to I than expected. Guitars are far more prominent I would say, creating a rhythmic ocean-like sound, with rolling melodic lines, successfully creating the image the title is going after. They've hit the jugular, here. The album perhaps isn't as catchy, too. The lyrics do not always rhyme or flow in an obvious way, creating far more intrigue and processing than before.

Credits: @thenbhd Instagram

The overall package is more pop, but how many pop albums have you heard that so transparently talk about death? 'Daddy Issues' couples together the traditional issue some women face of having daddy issues, the sort that litter American movies, with an open discussion about his father leaving him and dying. It's dressed up in quite an upbeat fashion, indeed, so is the whole album - very surprising considering what they have evidently experienced. The album even has a subtle love song to Jesse's partner, 'Single', which is entirely open in nature and I'm sure will be cherished by both the couple, and heartthrob fans alike. It takes courage and skill to do so, something they have achieved magnificently.

'Ferrari' and 'Greetings From Califournia' are the closest tracks to the previous albums sound. 'Ferrari' starts off with a viciously distorted guitar line, before returning to a more mellow sound. But neither of them are childish in nature or thrown in to keep some fans happy. The bass is certainly more prominent this album, and the drums receive a bit more unique experimentation. Acoustic guitar matches low-key percussion on several tracks, which is a brilliant relief from a full-on attack of the senses when hearing the main tracks off the album. 'Cry Baby' in particular is driven by bass, but cuts back right at the end to hear just Jesse and an acoustic guitar. A gentle, caring touch.

A progression rather than an overhaul, this album presents them as serious indie members of music culture. Their black and white imagery may be here to stay, but their colourful music has expanded its horizons.


'Wiped Out!' is out now.

Check out: Cry Baby // Single // The Beach

Friday, 23 October 2015

Adele // Hello - Single

Adele is back, and so is inarguably the most powerful voice in the industry. I did wonder when she broke her vocal chords whether she would make a full recovery, as she is reliant on the sheer velocity of her voice breaking ear canals. My concerns were dumbfounded, it seems.

On this new track 'Hello' taken from her third album '25', we hear about another tragic story. Except, it isn't meant to be. We were promised this album would be more positive, a make-up record in fact. What we have got is something definitely not upbeat, but what remains to be seen in whether she will deliver this promise. We will know when the album comes out in under a months time.

Adele hasn't released an album in over 4 years; so little other artists could get away with this. So little other artists could get away with her musical progression, too. There's been virtually no progression since her first album, with ballad after ballad providing a soundtrack to teenage heartbreak globally. Having sold over 21 million copies of '21' worldwide, I think it is a safe assumption to say she won't feel any pressure to progress, or indeed promote the album before it comes out too much. There's been, I imagine, suspense with the fans that have been looking forward to more material for years. By leaving less than a month before it comes out, it almost is more promotion than leaving the traditional 8-12 weeks.

'Hello' remains lugubrious in nature and withheld inability, but ultimately this is a great comeback track for Adele. There's something different in the delivery of the chorus, and realistically this will go on to sell millions. So really, who cares what I think about it? I could think it is the shittest thing since unsliced bread, but Adele wouldn't bat an eyelid. She can afford not to.

You can listen to 'Hello' below: