On its 2013 debut, I Love You, The Neighbourhood came off like a goth Maroon 5, making soulful alt-rock for the shady SoCal dream world occupied by Lana Del Rey (see the Alternative No. 1 "Sweater Weather"). The band got help from Del Rey producer Emile Haynie, whose absence on this follow-up doesn't kill the noirish vibe. Recorded with I Love You co-producer Justyn Pilbrow and duo 4e, the subtler, less stylized Wiped Out! keeps the palm-trees-at-twilight feel, but the sound is more hazy R&B than rock. Over seagull-squawk guitars in "Cry Baby" and the cold-blooded bump of "Ferrari," singer Jesse Rutherford goes full Weeknd, working through the young-buck anxieties that are his group's lifeblood. The songs are sometimes more moody than memorable, though single "R.I.P. 2 My Youth" is a notable exception: Rutherford cleverly riffs on the classic hip-hop gambit of imagining your own death, channeling The Notorious B.I.G. in a song that sounds like it was written by Miguel for Nick Jonas.
Listen to The Neighbourhood and other artists featured in this week's issue of Billboard.