September 21, 2017: Hard
Hard, The Neighborhood’s first EP after their 2015 album Wiped Out!, hits the billboards with a gloomy, melancholic sound that brings back the hazy tracks of 60’s psychedelic rock. This came with no warning, surprising fans all over the world. Their typically alt-rock foundations shaken by a deeper, darker musical twist, exploring lead singer Jesse Rutherford’s identity and aspirations.
January 12, 2018: To Imagine
Four months after their unexpected return, the Californian band adds to their fans’ confusion by releasing another EP, To Imagine. Same number of songs as in Hard, but this time the vibe is tinted with a more upbeat, The Weeknd-esque, colorful tone. Even the EP cover art finally dares to include colors for once. The lyrics in this one seem to continue Hard’s conversation: searching for identity, looking for a savior, finding a hypothetical key to self-discovery. It’s hard to imagine – see what I did there – how fast this EP has changed the band’s music. The fourth song in To Imagine finally brings both EPs together under one name:
Hard to imagine anything changing
Anything changing my way
March 9, 2018: The Neighborhood
Finally, after eight whole months of musical experimentation through Hard To Imagine, the band finally releases its new self-titled album: The Neighborhood. While they only leave in four songs from their previous exploratory EPs, they focus on delighting their audiences with an album that seems to have found an identity. It’s no surprise that the album is self-titled. It goes to show that not only have they found themselves, but that they are not scared of demonstrating that to their listeners.
While the band decided to make Void into their flagship album single, Rutherford’s self-acceptance as a multifaceted, eccentric musician is well encapsulated in Nervous:
Maybe I shouldn’t try to be perfect
I confess, I’m obsessed with the surface
In the end, if I fall or if I get it all
I just hope that it’s worth it
The Neighborhood’s journey of change, confusion, loss of identity, eventual reconciliation and self-acceptance is nothing new to the music industry. However, what is special about Rutherford and his edgy, alt-rock band is that they have made their inner turmoil public, allowing their fans to live through their transformation together and without fear.