LA hip-hop influenced indie rockers The Neighbourhood have been toying with our hearts for 2 years as we patiently awaited the follow-up to 2013’s I Love You. While singles like “Honest” (which was featured on the soundtrack for The Amazing Spider-Man 2) and “#icanteven” (a track off of their unreleased mixtape #000000 & #FFFFFF) held us over for a bit in 2014, no announcements of a sophomore album were being made. Enter “R.I.P. 2 My Youth,” the lead single off of the album 2.5 years in the making that Hoodlums have been waiting for.
Speaking of “R.I.P. 2 My Youth,” The Neighbourhood couldn’t have picked a better lead single to kick off the hype for Wiped Out! The deeply thought-provoking extremely hip-hop influenced track showcased their musical influences and they continued that with their somber-seductive second single “The Beach,” which will be discussed in a bit. Of the three tracks released before the album, “Prey” seemed to be the track that would appeal to the people that only know “Sweater Weather” while still having that underlying deep meaning that their music consistently has.
Wiped Out! quite literally opens with “A Moment of Silence” before going into a series of tracks that not only have clear elements of old school hip-hop and R&B but also incorporate slight dance elements (“Cry Baby,” “Ferrari”), indie folk characteristics (“Baby Came Home 2 / Valentines,” “Single”), and a circus-like lullaby worthy of American Horror Story: Freakshow. However, there also a decent amount of dark and sexy bedroom tracks that make you confused as to whether you should be in a gloomy mood or really turned on.
The album’s title track slowly prepares the listener for a provocative domino effect with a fusion of indie, R&B and dance paired with carnal vocals chronicling how one tries to use sex to numb the pains caused by the past (“I’m back and forth, I think I’m going crazy/I’m back and forth, I can’t make up my mind/I’m hoping that I’m never sati-/I’m hoping that I’m never satisfied”). Second single “The Beach” continues the storyline started in “Wiped Out!” in a similar alternative musicality to I Love You.
However, the lyrics from “The Beach” are what differentiate it from the other R&B-esque songs out there on the radio. Frontman Jesse Rutherford honestly delves into the frustrations of constantly needing someone to feel ‘better’ in lines like “now I need your help with everything that I do/I don’t want to lie/I’ve been relying on you.” Rutherford becomes our musical therapist by providing us the perfect chorus to inspire us to want to change our ways. “I’m sick and I’m tired too/I can admit/I am not fireproof/I feel it burning me/I feel it burning you/I hope I don’t murder me/I hope I don’t burden you…” easily becomes the anthem for those struggling to change our ways to find the strength to live life on our own.
The spotlight of the sultry-yet-melancholy trifecta has to be “Daddy Issues.” I didn’t think it were even possible to create a song that makes you want to bawl your eyes out while ripping your lover’s clothes off but The Neighbourhood succeeded in that with this gem. Dream-like, classic R&B infused instrumentation combined with Rutherford’s breath-y and seductive vocals gives us an almost therapeutic view on how the sins of our parental figures can cause damage to how one thinks about themselves. In this particular case, he uses his words to console the object of his affection (“go ahead and cry little girl/nobody does it like you do/I know how much it means to you/I know that you got daddy issues”) and reassure her that everyone has their own form of baggage to deal with (“and if you were my little girl/I’d do whatever I could do/I’d run away and hide with you/I love that you got daddy issues/and I do too”).
While I personally am not too thrilled with the fact that the Neighbourhood made us wait over two years for a new album, Wiped Out! was well worth the suffering. It’s very rare that a second album can be just as great as its extremely strong debut, but they successfully beat the sophomore slump. The Neighbourhood is back in all of their dark, seductive, eclectic glory and they proved that plan to ‘wow’ us for many years to come. Wiped Out! was definitely not a wipe out.