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BOTW Review: The Neighbourhood – I’m Sorry EP

Today, anonymity is not an option. An artist must intrude to survive; emblazoned in neon, poster-board behemoths, ten foot high lettering across every pixel and chalked on concrete, they become omnipresent and unrelentingly invasive. Trainer deals and film trailers, one thousand exclusive sessions backed by chat show cameos, charity singles pulled from conveniently-timed Christmas releases and a personal fragrance to boot; the exposure, ultra-burning-bright, brings success.

Yet The Neighbourhood remain intentionally elusive, littering obscure channels with obfuscated scraps of vaguely unnerving monochrome, part Mysteron, part music. From-nowhere track ‘Female Robbery’ surfaced quietly, accompanied by film-noir French uttered in childlike wonderment and a dark suburban thriller. Alongside the disquieting sexual voyeurism of ‘Sweater Weather’, a four-minute lucid exhibition of quick-worded filth and sedative seduction dressed as a casual Californian flirt, the band seemingly undertake to emulate the Hitchcockian ideals of suspense and psychological sexuality in earnest.

If I’m Sorry surrenders anything though, it’s a music far from Hitchcock. There’s no pretence, plot-twist or psychotic pulsations; its ten foot high pop, bombastic and smeared thick with gloss. The record howls like an electronic blitz siren: ruthlessly produced and cold format hip hop smudged into brooding guitar distortion. ‘Leaving Tonight’ and ‘Baby Came Home’ are dirty collared drawls, and miserablism twinned with purpose, with lead singer Jesse Rutherford crooning like a Winehouse throwback over weary and chaotic waltzes. Standout ‘Sweater Weather’ betrays youthful impressionism and late-teen urges, but is delivered with the unabashed arrogance of the tender and beautiful. Heavy breathing and tinny voices creak across ‘Wires’, an enrapturing dalliance of dark thoughts set to brittle beats. It grows, and spurts, and creeps in your headphones. It’s powerfully addictive.

Here lies an appeal, though: The Neighbourhood must drop the fictional facade of artistry. It isn’t a question of rejecting the languid conventions of a faceless industry in order to protect some well-meaning cause; this is shattering, bold and brilliant pop music, one that needs an image and production of the highest calibre. With something akin to the porcelain pristine of Lana Del Rey and hype-hysteria clique of G.O.O.D Music, a debut record will be unflinchingly irresistible.

-Geraint Ellis

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