Not so ‘Wiped Out!’ by The Neighbourhood’s new album

Rebecca Smalbach

In a departure from the alt-rock feeling of its first album, “I Love You,” The Neighbourhood reaches for a more R&B inspired vibe on its new album, “Wiped Out!”

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Don’t be fooled by the exclamation point―this album is just as melancholy as the group’s debut album was. However, “Wiped Out” has teen-angst written all over it.

With melodramatic lyrics like “I tried to write your name in the rain/The rain never came” from the song “Daddy Issues,” and predictable lyrics like “I still got a crush, that’s obvious/If nobody’s around, what’s stopping us?” from “Single,” it seems as if many of the songs in this album are a high schooler’s first attempt at a love poem―a bad love poem.

These lyrics are redeemed, if only slightly, by the musical backing on “Wiped Out!” Unlike the album “I Love You,” where the majority of the songs had the same laid-back rock or light rap sound, “Wiped Out!” is composed of a patchwork of genres.

From The Neighbourhood’s take on pure pop in “Single” to the ballad-esque “Baby Came Home 2/ Valentines” with heavy backing vocals, each song is distinctive.

No two songs sound like they come from the same album, but all of the songs still have a sound unique to the The Neighbourhood: soothing with a very edgy undercurrent. This is especially evident with the songs “Cry Baby” and “The Beach,” both of which have somnolent vocals with over-produced backing from live instruments.

By contrast, “Greetings from Califournia” is one of the more upbeat songs on the album, with funky background drums that offer a nice break from the monotonous trap beats that back the rest of the songs on the album.

Another break from monotony comes in the form of the opening track of “Wiped Out!” though this break is not of the pleasant variety.

Called “Moment of Silence,” this track is 34 seconds of silence, and I found it unbearably pretentious. It could have been marginally improved if it had been moved to the middle of the album as an interlude, an option that is growing in popularity among other artists like Alt-J and Lana Del Rey.

The Neighbourhood makes another mistake with their song order in putting the best song on the album, “R.I.P. 2 My Youth,” last on the tracklist.

The clear standout on “Wiped Out!,” “R.I.P. 2 My Youth” is a successful attempt by The Neighbourhood to blend its old sound from “I Love You” with the R&B style as popularized by The Weeknd.

With lyrics like “Put me in the dirt, let me dream with the stars/Throw me in a box with the oxygen off,” “R.I.P. 2 My Youth” is everything toward which the rest of the album strives, both in terms of its lyrical sophistication and its distinctive yet catchy sound. Most important, it achieves emotional depth with its lyrics, and unlike the rest of the songs on “Wiped Out!” it also has a memorable hook that could achieve success on the airwaves.

“Wiped Out!” shows that The Neighbourhood is not afraid to experiment with its sound, though these experiments can be hit or miss.

Little by little, The Neighbourhood is maturing as a band, though this album proves that the group still has room to grow. However, standout songs like “R.I.P. 2 My Youth” mean that when The Neighbourhood does eventually hit its stride, it will do so with great success.

For now, however, fans will have to be satisfied with the jumble of genres to be found on “Wiped Out!” and hope that The Neighbourhood’s next album will be more cohesive.