Setting alternative stage for new year

Arts and Entertainment Reviews

Neighbourhood’s “To Imagine” proves evolving sound 

By Alexandra Lachine, Arts and Entertainment Editor

2.5/5

unnamed
Members of The Neighborhood (NBHD) sit together. NBHD’s latest EP “To Imagine” moves away from the sounds of previous works and looks to set the tone for alternative music in 2018. (Image from laweekly.com)

With the release of haunting yet different singles “Stuck With Me” and “Scary Love” at the end of last year, California alternative group The Neighbourhood (NBHD) teased their fifth EP “To Imagine.” If you crave the longing, passionate rock vibes of the band’s earlier work— the kind of jams you can rock out to on the beach— this EP is likely not for you. Nonetheless, NBHD is having a go at setting the alternative stage for 2018. 

The five-track feature follows suit with a now evolving chill, moody vibe of both its full-length and EP predecessors, including 2013’s “I Love You” and 2015’s “Wiped Out!” Just last fall, NBHD dropped their fourth EP entitled “Hard” as another precursor to “To Imagine” in the new year. 

The EP is far less blissful in the familiar NBHD themes it conveys over the 20 minutes it spans, yet retains the yearning lead vocals of the crooning Jesse Rutherford. Zachary Abels (lead guitar, rhythm guitar, backing vocals) seems to have less of a strong role on most of the album, along with bandmates Jeremy Freedman (rhythm guitar, lead guitar, backing vocals), Michael Margott (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Brandon Fried (drums, percussion, backing vocals). This is due to the quintet’s newfound experimentation with an R&B, hip-hop and electro-pop sound, blatantly evident from the opening track “Dust” to the closing “Stuck With Me.” 

The EP is far less blissful in the familiar NBHD themes it conveys over the 20 minutes it spans, yet retains the yearning lead vocals of the crooning Jesse Rutherford. Zachary Abels (lead guitar, rhythm guitar, backing vocals) seems to have less of a strong role on most of the album, along with bandmates Jeremy Freedman (rhythm guitar, lead guitar, backing vocals), Michael Margott (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Brandon Fried (drums, percussion, backing vocals). This is due to the quintet’s newfound experimentation with an R&B, hip-hop and electro-pop sound, blatantly evident from the opening track “Dust” to the closing “Stuck With Me.” 

To Imagine - EP
(Image from www19.pluspremieres.us)

“To Imagine” does retain some substance in the band’s familiar lyrical work. Keeping with their commonly used theme of love or lust, Rutherford sings “Your love is therapy/ no drug can give me clarity/ as much as you do” on second track “Scary Love.” The EP’s fourth song, “Compass” is perhaps the most comparable to NBHD’s earlier, more rhythmically raw work. Each band member has more of a role for “Compass,” bringing back more of their beloved alternative rock sound. As Rutherford and Abels thoughtfully sing in an upbeat tone, “If I don’t have you with me I’m alone/ You know I never know which way to go/ I think I need you with me for all time/ When I need new direction for my mind,” the guitar, bass and percussion work in unison to compliment each word over each minute of the track. When listening to the EP, “Compass” can certainly be a refreshingly familiar song that longtime fans are able to vibe to as with those of earlier albums. 

The Neighbourhood spent the end of 2017 playing a quick run of sold out shows in Los Angeles, Mexico and Texas in anticipation of “To Imagine,” and will continue with a run of shows in California this April and a performance at Coachella in the spring. “To Imagine” is now available on iTunes, Amazon Music, Spotify and YouTube.