It’s that time of the year, everyone. As the leaves begin to fall, and the air gets cooler, more and more people will be gearing up for the incoming winter season. With the season change comes a music staple, the inescapable 2013 smash “Sweater Weather.” While many know the song, most likely don’t know the voices behind it, the American alternative band The Neighbourhood. The band seeks to change their status by tossing the sweaters of albums past and instead heading to the beach. Their new release, Wiped Out!, is a mellow, indulgent album that seeks to revitalize their West Coast meets mainstream rock aesthetic.
Wiped Out! is composed of eleven songs that are filled with darkness and nostalgia. The album begins with a brief moment of pure silence — appropriately titled “A Moment of Silence” — almost as if the band wants the album to play out as a funeral. After the quiet, the album truly begins with “Prey,” a swirling, moody number about a faulty relationship — a common theme on the album. Album highlight “Cry Baby” is a thumping, melody-driven blend of modernization with the familiar sound that people have come to expect from the California band.
As the album progresses, it’s easy to see that The Neighbourhood has a specific niche they want to play to. With a minimalist image and metaphorical lyrics, the band aims for the Tumblr generation, in which the problems of others can be broadcast to the world. We see this in songs such as “Daddy Issues,” a sensual and tender song about appreciating someone with similar issues as you, and “The Beach,” which deals with the pain and heartaches of love. Songs that include topics like these have allowed the band to garner recognition and a cult following throughout the past couple of years.
Like The Neighbourhood’s last album, I Love You, this album has its highs and lows. Often times, songs such as “Baby Come Home 2 / Valentines” come across as very timid and non-memorable compared to the first single “R.I.P. 2 My Youth,” (continuing the aforementioned funeral theme) a thumping, Arctic Monkeys-esque anthem that closes out Wiped Out! It is songs like this and “Cry Baby” that should have been the main sound for the record. While the rest of the tracks continue the gloom and whirlwind of their previous album, nothing truly feels like new ground for the band.
After two years of touring and writing, The Neighbourhood returns with an album that is likely to please both new and returning fans. It’s refreshing to see the band not abandon their identity and sell out due to the success of the their previous record, but instead continue to trek down the path they paved with I Love You. Marked with dark and morbid lyricism, haunting melodies, and a knack for one-liners, Wiped Out! is likely to spawn many lyrics used to show emotion through Tweets and Instagram captions. Lightning proves to only strike once, as no song truly captures the magic of “Sweater Weather,” but maybe that’s what the goal of the record was: to find a new bolt.
3 out of 5 stars.
— Jake Johnson, Music Blogger