& by Jesse Rutherford

Ally Schell | November 2017

Jesse Rutherford, the frontman for The Neighbourhood, has just released his own album that separates him from the music he and his band have previously made. But who is Jesse? Jesse is a singer and actor, he was featured in Life or Something Like It, a 2002 film about the meaning of life. Although Jesse no longer sees the lights of hollywood, he sees the lights on the stage as a part of his band. The band recently released an EP titled Hard. This new EP fits the theme of the band and its sound but recently, Jesse began releasing his own music. & is his new solo album and it is much different from any of the band’s music.

The cover of the album features Jesse in different poses, but they all have one thing in common--Jesse in his red lipstick. Jesse and his band has made a monochromatic or black and white style throughout all of their albums that can be linked to Jesse’s rare form of color blindness. However, in his solo album he uses many colors, specifically pink, to show his soft side and steer away from his traditional ways.

Now onto the music. “Barbie and Ken” starts off with a new wave of music for Jesse. It starts off with more of a rap beat with no guitar or drums, mainly electronic. He explains through his music that he keeps it real and that him and his girl, most likely Devon Lee, are the new Barbie and Ken. It also says “put your lipstick on my mouth” which could be a direct correlation to his red lips on his album cover. There is also a correlation to Wiped Out! When he says “all white lighter” which was previously mentioned in his song “R.I.P 2 My Youth” when he stated “I’m using white lighters to see what’s in front of me”. He could have mentioned this to show that although he is trying to be apart from his previous music, he is still attached in a way.

“Barbie and Ken” was a fast paced rap but “Blame”  is much slower. It talks about his family dynamic and its dysfunction playing into his life. He talks about his father and why he always had to keep a bottle open and how his mother raised him. But he admits that he doesn’t blame his father or mother for the things that they have done. This is strongly attached to the title “Blame” because he doesn’t feel like he can make anyone be the fault for who he is. He also suggests that he isn’t okay and states that he is “rotting away inside”. This shows that he still has his dark side even though his song “Barbie and Ken” talk about the glamour in his life. He still feels a sense of hopelessness amongst the soft beats.

These are just two of the eleven fresh songs that Jesse has put out. Of course it strikes fear in any fan’s heart to see a frontman like Jesse produce a solo album but, as you can see, there are many upsides to this. You will start to see that Jesse is realizing many things on his journey to individualism. Whether it be about his family, himself, or others he is learning how to deal with it all. Of course, being a fan myself, I worry about him pulling an Alex Turner and leaving to start his solo career. However, sometimes it is for the best. Who knows, maybe he will decide that going solo isn’t his thing?