The Neighbourhood’s latest concept album is exploding with shimmering sounds

I never had a go-to blanket or stuffed animal as a child—there wasn’t anything of that nature that my younger self clung to. It was plastic princess heels, Junie B. Jones books, and whatever song was playing from the red stereo on top of the fridge. 

As I’ve grown up, I’ve looked at empty space in my closet and wished that a scrappy, worn blanket took up space. Or at least a little teddy bear or something. But then my comfort band from middle school released an album, and the emotions it has elicited since September are more nostalgic than a torn piece of cloth could ever be. 

The Neighbourhood, a quintet lead by Jesse Rutherford, has grown and developed and changed their sound alongside my own development and growth. Discovering them in the dark, dark days of middle school, they’ve always been sitting right at the top of my ever-growing and ever-changing list of favorite bands—and it truly is because they are like the security blanket I never had as a child. 

Wiped Out!, their 2015 album, was a staple when I was navigating the turbulent waters of seventh grade, and, now, Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones is acting as that same constant as I navigate my final year of high school. 

While their earlier albums definitely fall under the darker, grungier side of music, Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones is a completely new vision. 

The 11-track album opens with a 30-second sparkling instrumental introduction titled “Chip Chrome,” and it embodies the silver-painted sound that The Neighbourhood is currently delving into. Starkly contrasting their previous albums, “Chip Chrome” sets the stage for a platinum album of synth, gentle vocals, and dance-worthy beats. 

“Pretty Boy,” the first full-length song, opens with melt-into-the-floor backbeats—gentle guitar strums that resemble an almost surf-rock sound and soft snare taps—and Rutherford’s rich vocals that I could blindly pick out of a lineup. It’s so rich; it melts like caramel and just reaches right into my soul, and despite their change in overall sound, Rutherford’s vocals remain the same. This song lightly brushes my eyelids closed, softly nods my head back and forth, and pokes the corners of my mouth upwards into a content smile. 

Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones did not fall flat at all, for “Lost in Translation” was too good of a song for that to be true.”

“Lost in Translation” picks up the pace a bit and, in turn, widens my little grin from “Pretty Boy” into a full-fledged smile. The repeated lines of “I’ve been getting lost in translation / trouble keeping up communication / we were having fun but now I can’t wait to be done” just hit. While the chorus is fast-paced and upbeat in typical The Neighbourhood fashion, there are alternate moments where the tempo completely slows, and the half-time drum beats scratch an itch in my brain like no other. 

The entirety of “BooHoo” does the same. Rutherford’s intergalactic, high-pitched vocals fall in line with the silver sound that Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones embodies. It sure is different than their earlier works, but, honestly, I love this new sound. “BooHoo” was my initial favorite when I streamed the album when it came out in September because of the funky beat and funky title and, two months later, it still reigns supreme. 

Other favorites, though, include “The Mono-Tones,” a one-minute long demo-esque track with just a simple continuous guitar, and “Cherry-Flavoured,” a dreamy track that puts me right at peace with the reverbed guitar and background vocals. 

The final track, “Middle of Somewhere,” closes the concept album in a stunning fashion. Beginning with Rutherford’s distant vocals and acoustic guitar and slowly building to a cascade of synth and right-in-your-ear vocals, this is definitely a stand-out track. 

While many critics claimed the concept of Chip Chrome fell short or the tracklist was nowhere near cohesive, I had too many favorite songs to agree with those statements. 

Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones did not fall flat at all, for “Lost in Translation” was too good of a song for that to be true.