The Neighbourhood’s ‘Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones’ Album Review

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Haley Appell & Lauren Leekley

Jesse Rutherford as Chip Chrome, provided by Paradigm Talent Agency.

A sampling of a classic 1950’s ballad floats through the air as you look upon the small vintage TV in the middle of the room. The disco ball on the screen spins around to reveal a stage with a patterned black-and-white linoleum floor, faceless band members in silver suits, and one fully silver (or chrome) man with a tambourine. 

This is the music video for ‘Lost in Translation,’ a single off of The Neighbourhood’s new album, ‘Chip Chrome and the Mono-Tones,’ and the man with the tambourine is Chip Chrome, played by the lead singer of The Neighbourhood, Jesse Rutherford. Chip Chrome, and his band The Mono-Tones, are the central characters of the refreshing, alternative album.

Rutherford is not the only singer to come up with a persona; in fact, he pays homage to Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie’s infamous alter ego. “I would say that Chip is addicted to the internet, a product of addiction from social media for so many years,” said Rutherford in an interview with Apple Music. He also said that he put almost three years into the creation of the character, but only was truly able to bring his alter ego to fruition after taking a break from social media. He told Apple Music that he “got off the internet for about nine months and stopped ingesting everybody else’s opinions.” This period of reflection allowed the band to move towards a slightly more glam alt/rock style than their synth influenced album ‘The Neighbourhood’ in 2018. 

The album opener, ‘Chip Chrome,’ is a 30-second, sci-fi-esque instrumental that sounds like it could be background music in ‘Star Wars.’ Its “foil” is Track 7, ‘The Mono-Tones,’ an intermission of sorts in the album. These two songs, and how they break up the album, give us the idea that The Neighbourhood is telling us the story of Chip Chrome through their album, making it seem like the songs are a film or play. There is a distinct introduction and intermission to the album, and a story arc throughout, with the glam alt/rock sound in the first few tracks giving way to the slower, mellower, more acoustic final songs.

The album is not only about Chip Chrome, however, as Rutherford has personal connections to many of the songs as well. For example, ‘BooHoo,’ Track 8 on the album, is a song that easily lends itself to Chrome’s bandstand dance floor, or maybe in the background of a movie like Grease; its tone is upbeat, vintage, and romantic. However, Rutherford tells Apple Music that it was written about his shifting relationship with his girlfriend, and how he learned to share the spotlight. This duality shows us that while Chip Chrome and his glittering personality may seem larger than life, these songs can have deeper meanings for even the most ordinary listeners.

This album, given the storyline, lyricism, and genuineness to both the character and the singer, has been one that I have frequently returned to since its release. My personal favorites are ‘Lost In Translation,’ ‘Silver Lining,’ and ‘Cherry Flavoured.’ I particularly enjoyed the lyrics in ‘Cherry Flavoured,’ specifically “cherry flavoured conversations,” which was very thought provoking.

This duality shows us that while Chip Chrome and his glittering personality may seem larger than life, these songs can have deeper meanings for even the most ordinary listeners.

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