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.
This story originally appeared in the Nov. 7 issue of Billboard.