I Love you is the debut album of Californian band The Neighbourhood. The album features a dark angst-filled take on love and relationships. It’s somewhat reminiscent of One Republic’s Dreaming Out Loud in that the slick, spacious music helps steer the album away from a baseless bitch about love, into a more serious reflection on those deeper feelings. Well ok, mostly – there’s also a fair bit of Jared Leto style brooding – emphasised by the band’s desire to only be shown in black and white.
There’s a dark surrealism present in the album, in songs such as ‘Let It Go’ and the bold opener ‘How’. In fact that’s what strikes me most unusual about an album entitled “I Love You.” There are no yearning ballads, you won’t find uplifting Train-esque songs about joyously falling in love. I Love You is equal parts bittersweet nostalgia and rampant cynicism, often bordering on nihilism. Perhaps there’s supposed to be an irony there, but regardless the melancholy feel works superbly.
Consider just some of these lyrics from a few songs:
It hurts but/I won’t fight you/and you suck anyway/you make me wanna die// – ‘Afraid’
Maybe you’re right/maybe this is all that I can be/but what if it’s you/and it wasn’t me/what do you want from me?// – ‘W.D.Y.W.F.M’
You are flawless/but I just can’t wait for love to destroy us// – ‘Flawless’
It’s not exactly honeymoon poetry, but the dark lyrics complement the musical atmosphere well and induce uncomfortable memories and uncertainty – and it works. ‘Even Sweater Weather’ with its beautiful sentiment, ends up sounding eerie. It’s a great track though so check out the sexy video for it below:
Other stand out tracks include ‘W.D.Y.W.F.M’, ‘Alleyways’, ‘Let It Go’ and from their original EP, ‘Female Robbery‘. These tracks force you to explore your own feelings, and it’s interesting to pick out the musical subtleties in the otherwise predictable arrangements.
The drums throughout the album are well produced with all the right effects. The rhythm has been scaled back to emphasise the vocals and lyrics, which pique your interest most of the time. The drums often sound the same though, throughout nearly every track. You’ll find no catchy drum fills, no deviation from that strict tempo. This, along with the ethereal production means that tracks end up sounding very similar: you could be forgiven for forgetting which song you were listening to. It also restricts the flow of some songs and they do become slightly monotonous in places. No doubt this will bore some listeners into skipping parts of the album, or relegating it to background music.
It’s a shame because it makes I Love You a bit of a throwaway album. For most, it’s not something you’ll go back to in three years’ time and play again. It’s also a shame that whilst at times the lyrics are involving and narrative driven, other songs seem careless and static. As good as ‘Staying Up’ sounds, it’s falls short lyrically compared to other tracks. Another minor gripe is the use of acronym song titles. Why is this even necessary? Whether it’s ‘W.D.W.Y.F.M’ or Katy Perry’s ‘T.G.I.F’, it’s not cool; it’s a fad that should have ended with FUBAR last decade.
Although let down in some areas, I Love You is a very decent debut. The sonic space is used beautifully and you can often feel the passion and intent behind the lyrics. The production values have clearly been laboured over, making this album a great springboard for the group to explore more ideas in their next release. I’d definitely recommend giving it a listen.