Album: Facing A Lifetime
New Jersey pop punkers Neighborhoods have fashioned a likeable if far too blasé effort in Facing A Lifetime, an album with all the ingredients to appeal to fans of the genre but which lacks too much to really appeal elsewhere. It’s a good record, by all means, and most enjoyable for its first half. After the midpoint however, its over dependency on the stalwarts of the genre becomes its undoing as the songs melt into one colourless, samey mass.
“Hoods Up” is a 19 second opening bit, hinting at attitude to follow as a fiery gang holler at the end ushers the album in proper. To be honest, it feels a little pointless, although it does lay a terse and breakneck foundation for “Finer Things” to commence the record. This track is loud, intense, and immediate – it’s barely a minute and a half long and it hardly pauses for breath throughout. The sound is quite traditionally pop-punk with relentless rolling drums insistently driving the song at all times. The vocals are a little lightweight but the brevity of the running time means there’s little time to notice.
“Think Before You Speak” opens with a raw and adamant guitar riff, the drums entering shortly thereafter to keep the pace frenetic and speedy as the vocals come in. There are gang vocals peppered throughout to add machismo and attitude. The pace is a little staccato; the song seems to stop and start with each drum flip but these sporadic changes in speed actually do much to keep it fresh and inventive. It loses a little edge near the end but again, it’s too short for this to undo the impact.
“Like A Kid” is the point at which the one continual flaw of the album surfaces however – the drums and riffs and similar pacing and structuring mean the songs begin to sound a little too alike. It’s difficult to engineer a stand out when all your basic ingredients are identical. Nonetheless, there is a spark to the underlying guitar here and it has a kick all its own, with plenty of breakdowns and surges to seize your attention. “Laundry List” has a rawer tone to it, with a more solemn air to the vocals. The bass is more audible than elsewhere which has a nice anchoring effect, and the middle section is very catchy with some cutting breakdowns and energetic swathes of guitar to spur everything onward.
“Family Values” is a little too dull for my liking – the vocals are exposed as wanting here, seeming pitchy and lacking colour. “If Only You Called” has a heavy beginning briskly offset by an overenthusiastic guitar. The drums are as kicking and unimaginative as ever and do little to add the necessary flair. “Three Strikes” has a similarly heavy riff to open, and unfolds quite nicely until the chorus takes a trip into far too familiar territory. The first verse is confident and slick however and the gang vocals make a late reappearance to add a suitable layer of solemnity. The slightly slower pace and less intensive sound is well-judged and does much to reinvigorate the album at this late stage. “Shut-Eye” doesn’t continue this trend, alas, with identikit percussion and vacuous singing cancelling out any potential instantaneously, before title track “Facing A Lifetime” ends things on a whimper instead of a bang. It’s an OK, but unremarkable song too content to stick to the formula elsewhere and peters out quite dully as a result.
As a whole then, Facing A Lifetime is certainly appealing, but far too formulaic to make a profound impact. It has all the necessary pop punk ingredients to keep fans happy and its unfailing enthusiasm should endear elsewhere, though it wears thin too fast and won’t stand up to repeated playing. A little imagination here and there and Neighborhoods’ next effort may have more to recommend it.
Review written by: Grace Duffy