Two years after releasing their album “Hard To Imagine The Neighbourhood Ever Changing,” the band did just that. Their latest album “Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones” features new sounds, new themes and new sources of inspiration in their music, as it follows the story of the lonely alien from the title.
Jesse Rutherford, the lead-singer, stated in an interview how the character was inspired by David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust. The Neighbourhood’s alien alter-ego has more modest ambitions than trying to save humanity, though; Chip Chrome spends the album reflecting on how he has become a stranger to himself and wants to take back control. Rutherford brought the character to life by wearing silver makeup, a spandex suit and slicked hair in a series of music videos predating the album’s release.
The band teased their new project through the release of the EP “Pretty Boy” at the end of August, which featured their 2019 release “Middle of Somewhere” and three new songs. All four hinted at the album’s themes of taking time to better understand one’s identity, the role love plays in times of crisis and re-examining the direction of one’s life.
In particular, the song “Pretty Boy,” for which the EP was named, described a relationship that sustained the singer even when it felt like everything he once knew was falling apart. Most likely based on Rutherford’s relationship with his longtime girlfriend Devon Carlson, the lyrics implied their love is all the singer needs, “even if the sky’s on fire.”
While Chip Chrome’s character and arc were under development, Rutherford took a break from social media. He admitted being in the spotlight for so long had muddled his perception of who he was and what he wanted to do, and this period of questioning had a clear impact on the album.
In the song “Cherry Flavoured,” Chip accepted he needed to “slow down” and “take control” because he was struggling to find enjoyment in the famous lifestyle that had once thrilled him.
The album’s final track did not resolve the conflicts the previous songs explored, but it did offer a limbo between questions and answers that is both peaceful and melancholy to listen to.
In “Middle of Somewhere,” Chip Chrome reflects on how far he has come over the course of his life, and by acknowledging that he can only go forward he regains some autonomy. “Everyone is an alien / When you’re trying to find your place,” but Chip shows no sign of giving up the search.
Fans have already started sharing suspicions on what certain lyrics mean. For example, the third verse of the song “Devil’s Advocate” has been rumored to reference how the band has stayed together despite past disagreements for the sake of their loyal fanbase.
Although the fans can debate theories, they cannot deny how The Neighbourhood has stolen their hearts with the sci-fi aesthetic, mellow instrumentals and introspective themes that define “Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones.”