It may be a traditionally alternative-centric group, but The Neighbourhood definitely knows how to keep listeners guessing. With its newest release, appropriately named Ever Changing, the group is truly flexing its hip-hop vein.
While the sound is newer than what fans might be used to, this isn’t the first time the group has released a hip-hop focused album. In 2014, the mixtape titled #000000 & #FFFFFF (the HTML coding for the colors black and white) was released, featuring artists such as Casey Veggies, YG, G-Eazy and French Montana.
The first track of Ever Changing, “Kill Us All,” features critically acclaimed rapper Denzel Curry for a hard throwback sound — heavy hip-hop influences dust the vocals, a slight echo sounding as if the words were being spoken into an old-school microphone. The prominent drums and ghostly whispering of the lyrics give the song the alternative sound The Neighbourhood is known for – but Curry’s rap offers an edge that the band wouldn’t have been able to pull off by themselves.
Lead singer Jesse Rutherford takes his verse on a more predictably The Neighbourhood sound, with a booming bass line after his mumbled vocals. The outro of the song is a recording of a woman speaking on the phone, saying, “I don’t know what kind of idiot you think is gonna fall for this scam, but you people are in trouble. You contacted the wrong person, bye.” An Instagram user asked Rutherford about the identity of the voice — to which he responded, “It’s a random voicemail I got from a scary ass lady.”
“Livin’ In a Dream,” which features rapper Nipsey Hussle, takes on a softer, more acoustic-electronic vibe — a much lighter subject than “Kill Us All.” The distorted piano and delicate guitar throughout the song complement the chipmunk-rap style of the intro before it transitions into a more upbeat hip-hop tone. This song is the main single off the EP, taking on a prominent West-Coast-rap feel.
The cover art for this EP features the classic The Neighbourhood logo, an upside down house, but this time in an anthropomorphic style. Carrying arms and legs, the house appears as a living thing sporting sneakers and a hat tagged with “The NBHD.” The band keeps to a steady black and white theme for its art, but this image shows notes of color untypical of an album by The Neighbourhood — small pops of color in the windows of the lively house.
Ghostface Killah makes an appearance on “Beat Take 1.” Rutherford starts the song off with a low-key chorus, taking on a dreamy tone with occasional sounds of scratching records. Ghostface Killah, a former member of Wu-Tang Clan, comes in to add a harder rap verse before Rutherford jumps back on with his smooth talk-singing. The first lyric in this song is the word “cream,” which is easily a reference to Wu-Tang’s biggest hit, “C.R.E.A.M.”
Rutherford’s voice is enchanting on the track “Paradise,” hypnotizing listeners with its drowsiness. This track is the only one on the EP without a feature, so it takes on a more organic Neighbourhood tone. The lyrics of the song paint a darker mood than what is usually associated with a utopia — the words, “No matter where you go, you’ll never have control / No one makes it out alive, no one makes it out alive in paradise,” show Rutherford’s insecurities with fulfillment.
The album takes a turn with the last track, “Beautiful Oblivion,” featuring rapper IDK. An electronic wave of sound starts the song, reflecting the experimental style of The Neighbourhood’s newest self-titled album. The song has two clear parts: the first being the beautiful and the second the oblivion. The lyrics are a bit theatrical in the first part of the song, featuring a groovy backing bass line and fast drum beat.
The second part of the song immediately slows down and brings an eeriness with the muffled transition. The clear instrumentals disappear, to be replaced with a sparkle of electronic twangs and a low booming filling the atmosphere of the track. This song also ends in a phone recording from an unidentified voice, talking of Rutherford’s stardom.
The album is one of the most entertaining that The Neighbourhood has released to date. It constantly evolved and takes on new styles previously unexplored by the group. Alternative rock may still be the band’s main forte, but if Ever Changing proved anything, it’s that hip-hop sounds pretty good on them.