In 2013 “Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood was inescapable. The catchy smash hit was all over the radio, and The Neighbourhood’s dark alternative music achieved international success. Their sophomore album, Wiped Out!, peaked on the Billboard charts at 13, and they haven’t released new music until last Friday, with their new EP titled Hard, consisting of five songs.
Upon first listen, I felt nothing but disappointment. The songs felt like they dragged on and some of the themes felt cliché. The first song, “Roll Call,” for example, felt common because it talked about trying to step out of the mold set for you and trying to be your own person. The next song, “You Get Me So High,” talked about feeling a euphoric high being around someone you love.
For the first 20 seconds of “Noise,” I thought The Neighbourhood was finally going to have a decent song on the project, but frontman Jesse Rutherford’s voice felt like a weird pairing with the musicality of the song. I thought I could get over it, but as the song progressed, I started to dislike it more.
“24/7” was tolerable, but I would never have guessed the song would be from The Neighbourhood. The more upbeat music and electronic influenced drums gave off more of a Foster The People vibe. Not a bad thing, of course, but it still felt like grabbing a Reese’s Pieces in a bowl of M&Ms.
The last song, “Sadderdaze,” was the as depressing as the title. I kept on wondering if a high schooler who thinks he’s misunderstood actually wrote the song. The lyrics were cringy and the musicality was dull. They tried adding strings between the chorus and the second verse, but the variety failed to change my impression of the song. And just when I thought the song couldn’t get sappier, they decided to throw in a choir in the end. C’mon guys!
But as I tried to give the EP another listen, I grew to better appreciate “Roll Call,” mostly because it’s the first song off the project and I had to get through it in order to give the rest of the EP a chance. Even though the message was pretty cliché, the music still felt truest to The Neighborhood’s sound. I really liked how the song kept on building suspense that would lead up to nothing, kind of like the first half of The Shining. The highlight of the song is the dark, slightly distorted organ that crowns the eeriness of the song.
If you give it time, this EP can become enjoyable. But still, the few highlights couldn’t save Hard from being bland. Fortunately, this project is so easily forgetful that it will soon be erased from everyone’s memory once their third full-length album releases.
Contact CU Independent Arts Staff Writer Max Rothstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.