Somehow in a single beat or an airy breath, California-based alternative band The Neighbourhood (The NBHD) can send a shiver down your spine and get you deep in your feelings. It’s an undertow present throughout each of their releases, and it’s especially wrapped up in the sonic fabrics of their latest surprise effort.
On Thursday (Sept. 20) the alt group began teasing a new project, and subsequently dropped the Hard EP, out via Columbia, on Friday, without any warning to fans, sharing their first follow-up to their 2015 sophomore record Wiped Out! The new five-song collection finds a progressive sound for the band, delving into experimental electronic spaces while upholding their cryptically stylish rock-infused sound, as frontman Jesse Rutherford explores a particularly dissociative affect.
Since The NBHD’s debut, a dark moodiness has become a band signifier, infiltrating their divergent, hip-hop heavy #000000 & #ffffff mixtape and seeping into their recent full-length with further emotional intrigue. But now on Hard, Rutherford hauntingly trills something even more artistically frigid, as if the gust of an ice storm sends him to detached introspection on tracks like stand-out opener “Roll Call,” “Noise,” and “Sadderdaze” while he evaluates exactly who he aspires and refuses to be. Over echoing production that turns Rutherford’s vocals into a hallucinogen, as well as slinky, rhythmic instrumentation — even immaculate string sections — the reflective songs evoke a sinister sensuality.
Even with the EP’s hardness, tracks like “You Get Me So High” and “24-7” see the group dwelling in a more positive light, evaluating relationships over shimmering electronic work — a possible new sphere for the SoCal outfit that have proven they refuse to mold to a single genre.
Malleable and moody, Hard is The NBHD’s Cali cool at its best — inspiring imagery of the group cruising along the coastline, smoking a blunt — as they come up through the haze to reveal where they are going next, while they seduce with their newest project.
Listen to the Hard EP below.
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