The Neighbourhood’s music is in no way lackluster or monotone. An alternative rock band, their music is much more than just that. They have made slow and calm songs, up-beat and fast-paced songs, and everything else in between, producing multiple outstanding albums.
But one that seems to rise above the others — especially when demonstrating their mastery of music that can evoke many emotions — is Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones, specifically the deluxe version. On December 11th, the album will be a year old, but nothing about it feels dated, as the album still does exactly what they were going for — strong, emotion-packed songs — in a beautiful way.
Opening the album with “Stargazing” builds an excellent set up for the collection, delivering a balance of the powerful bass notes with flowery lyrics that speed up gradually during the bridge as the chorus grows nearer (“Might’ve set the bar a little too high/ Started with a spark, now we’re on fire”), yielding a soft yet uplifting flow. In the chorus, the instrumentals in the background speed up but the vocals are more relaxed than before, invoking a sense of nostalgia while also having a sort of soft but lively vibe — almost causing a floating feeling — with the way the lyrics are sung breathily but with power behind them (“Ooh, baby / I feel like we made it pretty far / Now we’re stargazing). That, paired with light synth notes, makes it feel futuristic in a sense, ultimately doing an excellent job of opening the album with a remarkable song. It’s an outstanding balance of pop, alternative, and even bordering on rock.
The following track “Here we Go Again” features jazzy instrumentals that really slow down the previous songs pace but in a refreshing way. The use of drums and the addition of light vocals (“You say you want it to be great again / But it was never that way to begin with”), make the song rather simple in a nice way. It still is upbeat enough — due to the higher pitched vocals and the drum beat — but still mellow enough to be a refreshing way to follow up a very lively song like “Stargazing,” without allowing the entire album to feel overdone. The track doesn’t necessarily stand out when put next to the rest of the album as each song has very unique characteristics but this song feels like the only unique feature is its simplicity — which by no means is a bad thing — it just makes the song not stand out the way the others do.
The song “Devil’s Advocate” is one of their — if not their most — noteworthy song on the album as it highlights strong drums and bass notes with some vocalizing on top with the way lyrics like “I’m the devil’s advocate / You don’t know the half of it” are breathy but clear during the chorus makes the song feel almost melancholic, as the steady drums carry you through the song. The very high-pitched bass notes repeating through the whole song add a nice touch to that mysterious feeling while keeping the song from being too melancholic. Near the end of the song, the lyrics stop and the guitar and drums pick up to bring out that rock-like touch that the Neighbourhood put in many of their songs.
“Cherry Flavoured” — another wonderfully unique addition to the album — is a slow but energetic combination of elements from the other songs. It features an acoustic guitar rather than their usual electric, and their normal fast paced drums are traded for a very consistent drum beat. There is a small amount of reverb that pairs well with the acoustic guitar making this song — a nice break from the rest of the album — return to that upbeat feeling from “Stargazing” but still keeps the pace of the songs relaxed.
Wrapping up the album is “Middle of Somewhere” beginning with just an acoustic guitar, kind of taking from “Cherry Flavoured” that plays throughout the rest of the song aside — the only other aspect of the song– the vocals. It feels so simplistic — a blank canvas after the different emotions painted in the album — serving as a way for the listener to feel any emotion they see fit rather than making the song have a specific emotion. A big part in establishing that blank yet powerful emotion, is the soft delivery of lyrics like “Landed in the middle of somewhere with you / Now you’re stranded in the middle of somewhere.” And after all of the emotion filled songs on this album it is the perfect way to wrap everything up as the listener takes away whatever emotion they feel rather than the Neighbourhood themselves choosing a specific, strong feeling for the final song.
This album is very well done, a wonderful example of the creative emotion packed, alternative rock music The Neighbourhood excels at. On their own, each song feels like its own creative take on alternative music, and put together, each song adds something special making this album feel very thought out and creative.
The way that The Neighbourhood paints a multitude of colorful emotions in Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones shows exactly why this band is anything but monotone.
Kayli Link is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl