I interviewed The Neighbourhood in 2013, hot off their double platinum single “Sweater Weather”. I've been a fan beyond reason since, through mixtapes and albums and extending to lead singer Jesse Rutherford’s solo career and his girlfriend Devon’s vlogs. What I love most: Every Neighbourhood project makes promises for the next while fulfilling those of the last.
Back then they described their sound as “dark pop”, but it was already more than that. Part teen confessional, part foggy soundscapes, and always ready to accommodate hip hop cadences, it somehow anticipated both the R&B stylings and emo revival of the half-decade since their debut without earning them much credit—a fact Jesse's aware of:
"You have to be on time. You can’t be early in this game. That doesn’t get you anywhere. At least from my experience. I feel like there have been moments where I’ve been like,'Well I did that first,' and then something else happens and someone else does it. And maybe they did it at a better time. Maybe they had it more refined. Maybe it was better than the version I had. Or the type of song. Or the type of sound. Sometimes you gotta wait for the right time." — Jesse Rutherford, 2018
They're still operating under the radar, but the boys have released two EPs—Hard and To Imagine—and a self-titled LP since September (that’s in addition to Jesse’s solo record, &). Sure enough, they sound more at home in 2018 than they did in 2013, but they’re still stretching muscles: the brightest moments here are drenched in surprisingly neon-hued ’80s synths and melodies. “Void” and “Stuck With Me” are patient, anxious displays of Jesse’s self-aware self-doubt; “Scary Love” is saccharine, pulsing pop that comes complete with a Tommy Wiseau-starring video. They may have changed the formula just slightly too much to ride the wave they helped start, but that kind of commercial self-destruction is part of the thrill.
All that, and I’m already looking forward to what they'll promise next.