The Neighbourhood - I Love You

It’s a smarter beast than it gives off, this.

Label: Columbia

Rating: 7

With their 2012 emergence, The Neighbourhood sported black-as-tar, film noir imagery, chock-full of Alfred Hitchcock odes. Turns out they’ve stayed true to the cinema-bred darkness, ‘I Love You’ having one of the most misleading album titles of all time.

When frontman Jesse Rutherford spits lines like ‘it hurts but I won’t fight you / you suck anyway,’ you can sure as hell bet he’s not reciting his wedding vows. The album closes with a track called ‘A Little Death’. Just a little. If this is Hitchcock, it’s that scene from Psycho on a gruesome loop, with nothing but jarring static in the background.  

Aligning all this hate and melodrama is a ridiculously glossy sheen. It’s a little like the gleaming white-toothed smile we so associate with Los Angeles, as it gleefully distracts from its troublesome undercurrent. Come to California, we’ve got the girls, the sea and the high crime rate. It’s a smarter beast than it gives off, this. Its thick, heavy-going entirety might grate, but songs like ‘Sweater Weather’ are hard-to-tame pop juggernauts.

And even with a title like ‘Everybody’s Watching Me’ drawing attention to the weight of expectation in the album’s mid-section, potential pressure isn’t evident on these young shoulders. They stick to the remarkably fully-formed mantra they arrived on the scene chanting. And while they could go darker, grizzlier, or even shinier, ‘I Love You’ achieves what few debuts can, by making one hell of an opening statement.