The Neighbourhood’s Latest Album Plunges Into a Sci-Fiesque Universe

Californian alternative rock band The Neighbourhood released their fourth studio album, Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones, on Sept. 25. 

The band first teased the album in August 2019 with the single Middle of Somewhere. Now, the highly anticipated album is here with the group decked out in silver-paint and chrome-colored attire.

Formed in 2011 with frontman Jesse Rutherford, guitarists Jeremy Freedman and Zach Abels, bassist Michael Margott, and drummer Brandon Fried, The Neighbourhood broke onto the mainstream in 2012 with the release of their EP I’m Sorry that featured the hit single Sweater Weather. Mixing moody hip-pop, 90s alternative-rock and reaching number one the Billboard Alternative Songs chart in 2013, they immediately grew a massive fanbase. 

Since then, they have released three studio albums: I Love You. (2013), Wiped Out! (2015), and their self-titled album The Neighbourhood (2018). 

Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones follows Rutherford’s life experiences with a modern, futuristic dystopian twist. While developing the album he took a nine month break from social media to get a hold of what music and his band meant to him. He completes the album with the silver-clad, spandex-wearing alter ego he spent three years developing, Chip Chrome. In creating the persona, Rutherford took inspiration from David Bowies’ persona Ziggy Stardust

“Bowie was Ziggy, and Ziggy was a character very addicted to cocaine—and I would say that Chip is addicted to the internet, a product of addiction from social media for so many years,” Rutherford told Apple Music

The eleven-track album starts with Chip Chrome, a 32-second sci-fiesque track inspired by the 1971 George Lucas film THX 1138. It’s an introduction that takes listeners into an alternate universe as Chrome falls into earth. 

Pretty Boy is my favorite track on the album. It’s a sweet, heartfelt love song reflecting on the importance of having a significant other. Though the lyrics seem so simple, “Even if the earth starts shaking / You’re the only one worth taking with me,” Rutherford translates emotion not with the words he says but with the way he says them. 

In the music video for Pretty Boy, fans get the first glimpse of Chrome as he wanders the streets of Los Angeles struggling as an artist. Some fans speculate the music video is a representation of The Neighbourhood’s career and how they have come to terms with not being in the spotlight like they once were when Sweater Weather was first released. 

Lost in Translation is the most standout song in the album with its funky upbeat pop sound, ditching their usual sad boy vibe sound. 

Devil’s Advocate finds Rutherford singing about fame and slowing down.

The Mono-Tones is the album’s halfway point. The tune is a high-pitched, one-minute interlude that complains about voices “makin’ too much noise.” The Mono-Tones are the voices that are always in Rutherford’s head.

BooHoo is about Rutherford dealing with insecurities in his current relationship with social media influencer Devon Carlson. Before meeting her, he was the main character in his life. He had to learn how to be a co-star when being in a relationship. 

Silver Lining and Tobacco Sunburst are undoubtedly dispiriting and have an emphasis on lost happier days and memories, summing-up in true Neighbourhood fashion. 

Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones is one of my favorite albums to release in 2020. The sci-fi concept behind the album makes it a cinematic listening experience. Definitely their most conceptual and exploratory work to date.

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