By Mica Kendall
Since The Neighbourhood's 2015 album release Wiped Out!, the band ventured out on two national tours for the album Being the Flood and Nu Waves tour, but then in 2016 went off the grid on a year round hiatus, leaving fans with little speculation as to what was to come next of the Neighbourhood. This speculation was abruptly ended when The they dropped their new five-tracked EP Hard on social media, causing the revival of their unique mysterious sound. Hard retains The Neighbourhood's stylistic ominous instrumentals, but lyrically appears to be more redefined in giving fans a more intimate glimpse into frontman, Jesse Rutherford's, personal life and feelings regarding the music industry and fame.
The opening track "Roll Call" eases the EP with a slow steady beat mirroring the opening beat in their song "Wires" from their 2013 Ep I'm Sorry. Lyrically, Rutherford conveys an underlying notion that he's tired of feeling controlled as he makes the allusion to a soldier doing what it's told, while Rutherford wants to, "talk like me/I don't wannabe another/no." In addition, the ominous sounding keyboards accompanying hiss obscure lyrics gives the listener an opening sense that Rutherford is seeking a sense of independence away from what is deemed the societal norm. The second track "You Get Me So High," sonically contrasts from "Roll Call," with its upbeat consistency acknowledging Rutherford's rise to fame that he feels overpowered by with. "You Get me So High" revolves around Rutherford's craving of wanting to be 'high all the time; from his musical success like the mass attention he received from his breakthrough hit "Sweater Weather."
Rolling off of Rutherford's feeling of fame in "You Get Me So High", the third track, "Noise," focuses around the negative effects that comes with fame in the music industry. With a persistent steady heavy bass prevalent throughout the whole song, Rutherford emphasizes the corruption found within the music industry with the self realization in, "I never knew you would turn us into animals", underscoring the music industry stripping away creativity from the artists and making music into a more artificial sense.
"And now the kids are making noise just because it's something to do."
Lyrically "Noise" connects back to the sense of independency Rutherford previously mentions in "Roll Call" as he tries to retain his own artistic individuality amidst a corrupted music industry.
A stand out track on the EP is the fourth track "24/7," which separates itself from the other tracks with its beginning instrumentals reminiscent to the hit single "RIP To My Youth". Its infectious lyrics causes the listener to literally want to listen to the track 24 hours a day for 7 days a week. "24/7" shifts away from Rutherford's message on corruption within the music industry, and instead lyrically focuses on the Californian upbringing of he and his girlfriend, Devon Carlson. The track's overall message is Rutherford's emphasis on living life in the moment, even though Carlson is "just 22 and she doesn't know what to do," Rutherford's chorus underlines how he will always be there for her 24/7 since time is precious and cannot be wasted. Lastly, the fifth track, "Sadderdaze," provides lyrically a great sense of closure to the EP, with its slow tempo beat focused on Rutherford's transition from a child to the reality of being an adult in present day, by metaphorically comparing how "Saturdays are not the same as they used to be," with how as a child Rutherford knew "He was gonna be a star someday" to now feeling like fame and the music business "keeps on using me." Ending the EP with a sense of gloom on the harsh realities that comes at a price with fame.
Overall, Hard provides fans with a more mature look into Rutherford's personal feelings, with cathartic lyrics full of depth and emotion, that were not as frequently prevalent in The Neighbourhood's last album Wiped out!. Though their individualistic mysterious dark sound has not faded away, this EP showcases The Neighbourhood's progressive growth as a band with a more intimate feel and gives fans new music to look forward for during the small upcoming winter tour in December for Hard.