The Neighbourhood: I Love You.

Over-enthused eclecticism and a lack of focus cause I Love You. to fall short too often.

The Neighbourhood

I Love You.

Label: Columbia
US Release Date: 2013-04-19
UK Release Date: 2013-04-22

Los Angeles outfit the Neighbourhood seek crossover success with their 2013 Columbia debut, I Love You.. Over the course of 11 tracks and 46 minutes of music, the Neighbourhood fail to lock into one definitive style, straddling elements of indie-rock, pop, hip-hop, and R&B. The ends of the quintet’s "eclectic" means is mixed as opposed to being triumphant. The songwriting generally trends over-simplistic, coupled with an identity crisis which too often undoes or underwrites the band’s good ideas. Because of a lack of focus in some respects, I Love You. ends up falling short too often.

“How” establishes a dark, moody nature about the effort. Frontman Jesse Rutherford introduces the listeners to his distinct voice with heavy lyrical content: “How could you question God’s existence / When you question God himself? / Why would you ask for God’s assistance / if you wouldn’t take the help?” “How” is not "definitive"’ per say, but easily highlights the band’s potential and strengths. Follow-up “Afraid” takes a back step, with Rutherford’s somewhat thin vocals being covered by overwrought, dense production work. Similarly, “Everybody’s Watching Me (Uh Oh)” is adversely affected by "too much" production, which takes away from solid melodic ideas being presented, particularly on the chorus. Like the previous cuts, darkness characterizes.

“Sweater Weather” gives the Neighbourhood a much-needed lift. Quick-paced lyrics on the verses give a nod to hip-hop. The chorus is all schmaltz (“Cause it’s too cold / For you here and now / So let me hold / Both hands in the holes of my sweater”), but the melody atones. On “Let It Go”, R&B is fully realized within the group’s eclectic means. While it works well enough as its own entity, within the scope of the effort it seems out of place, hurting overall cohesion. “Alleyways” highlights the outfit’s lyrical immaturity, making the 20-somethings sound like teenagers, evidenced by the chorus: “And whenever the sun came out, we played / (We didn’t want to get older…) / We would run on the block all night and day / (We didn’t want to get older)”. Even a bold f-bomb fails to give The Neighbourhood adult credibility.

“W.D.Y.W.F.M.?” continues Rutherford and company’s "youthful" stance, accentuated by rebellious lyrics like “I’m fucked in the head, and my mind is turning into a whore” or the annoying, modern pop multisyllabic treatment of lyrics “What…” The profanities become more prevalent on “Flawless”, but their power is undercut by predictable placement…bummer. On “Female Robbery”, a blend of hip-hop and pop acknowledges both the group’s range and lack of a signature sound. Lyrics continue to be so-so, particularly on the big, childish “Staying Up”, which might even come off ridiculously to teens (“Some part of me feels a little bit naked and empty / I’m stuck underneath a few dirty old blankets to comfort me”). “Float” opens busily, delivering on its musical ideas. Still, issues can be taken between the mismatch between Rutherford’s lead and edgier music ideas that often limit the frontman’s effectiveness.

Ultimately, I Love You. is an extremely flawed debut with good intentions. There are hints of greatness at times, but those hints are often masked in the excess of gargantuan production or underdevelopment. Generally, there is nothing wrong with eclecticism and willingness to experiment, but it becomes a problem with a lack of a core identity. The Neighbourhood will need to fine-tune details next go-round.


Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.