In early 2012 a mysterious band appeared online. The group, The Neighbourhood, revealed no biographical information, no photos and no backstory, offering only a moody track titled “Female Robbery.” Fans and the press were confounded, scouring the Internet for any information that might lead them to the identity of these musicians. Pieces of the puzzle, some reflecting reality and some not so much, began to emerge. The Neighbourhood were a quintet. They were from California despite the British spelling of their name. They had a second track, “Sweater Weather,” which had an accompanying — and equally dark — video.
Although The Neighbourhood’s identity remained hazy, it became clear that the music they were making felt transformative to critics and fans alike. The evocative combination of rock instruments with R&B and hip-hop aesthetics seemed, in many ways, revelatory, a reimagining of sounds that seemed to make people clamor for more information with even greater fervor. In April, BBC Radio One DJ Zane Lowe, an early champion of the group, let it slip that The Neighbourhood was the handiwork of musician Jesse Rutherford, a resident of Newbury Park, CA. By early May, as the band unveiled a free, self-released EP titled “I’m Sorry,” it became understood that the identity of this young band was, ultimately, secondary to the music itself.