Review: Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones

The Neighbourhood’s new album sounds good, but is devoid of meaning.

The cover art for Chip Chrome and the Mono-Tones, depicting concept character Chip Chrome.

Photo Columbia Records

The cover art for “Chip Chrome and the Mono-Tones,” depicting concept character Chip Chrome.

Amelia Foster, Print Managing Editor

L.A. alternative band The Neighbourhood first found success in 2013 with “Sweater Weather,” but seven years later, their music hasn’t evolved past the cool nothingness that created their first hit. Their most recent album Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones is pleasant on the ears, but only if the listener isn’t paying too much attention to the substance of the album.

The general atmosphere of the album is hard to describe. Its futuristic in exactly the way you’d imagine futuristic music to sound in the early 21st century. Electronic, smooth, a bit robotic. Like if you took every cheap sci-fi movie aesthetic and turned it into music. Once again, nice to listen to, but only if you tune out the lyrics.

Opening song “Chip Chrome” is a 29-second long instrumental, immediately establishing the mood of the album. It’s electronic, building momentum as the song goes on. The tension immediately crashes at the start of the next song “Pretty Boy,” a soft tune with cheesy lyrics. This album is the kind of music that’d play during a movie as the characters talk; enough to set a mood, not enough to actually want to listen to it.

As seen in the album title and opening track, the album is supposed to be set around character Chip Chrome, a metallic man partially inspired by David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust.

Good concept albums are supposed to tell you something about the character while providing some insight into the musician. I couldn’t tell you anything about Chip Chrome outside of the fact that they’re made of chrome.

“Lost in Translation” and “Hell or High Water” are the closest things to standouts on the album. “Lost in Translation” has a vibrant chorus and detailed production, starting out with the voice of a blues singer before shifting into a classic The Neighbourhood beat. “Hell or High Water” is futuristic folk, but the end result reminds me of the music they play in Spongebob Squarepants. 

Other tracks on the album like “Cherry Flavored,” “Silver Lining” and “Devil’s Advocate” sound like nothing. There’s no flavor, no spice. It was at times difficult to tell when one song ended and the other began, each blending into each other.

Don’t go into Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones expecting it to inspire deep emotions, if it inspires any emotions at all. This album is something I’d do my homework to, not something I’d use as a soundtrack for abstract thought.