By: Audrey Pastorek
From the first look of the album cover, you could presume that Jesse Rutherford has established many unique styles, not just for himself, but for his music too. The cover features eight colorized versions of Jesse, each just as different from the last. This clues us in to the various sounds that you will hear off of the album once you begin listening. On November 10th, 2017, Lead vocalist Jesse Rutherford of Alternative band, The Neighborhood, leaves his band mates behind for his newest creation: &.
As stated, this album exemplifies many new sounds for Jesse, as he introduces his R&B talents on the forceful song “Barbie and Ken” and blends a more acoustic sound with an electronic vibe on the clearly profound song, “I Think We Should Stay in Love”. However, Jesse still remains with his dreamy yet gritty, Neighborhood vocals for many songs. Being that Jesse is on his own for this album, with no drummer or guitarists/bassists backing him up, this has an overwhelming electronic feel. Off this album, the song “Pretty Illusion” reminds us of some of Jesse’s vocals on the Neighborhood’s latest EP, Hard, specifically the song “24/7”.
I was beyond pleased by the diversity and overall sound of his first solo album. It’s a delightful rollercoaster of musical genres. A new experience awaits you with each song. This album can easily comply with whatever musical mood you happen to be in.
Jesse’s lyrics deal with the past, present and future. They represent his identity crises and internal struggles he faces in this new era. In addition, they mention his past struggles with family, as well as his relationships and where they might lead to in the future.
Some personal favorites of mine off of & would have to include, “Pretty Illusion”, with its traditional Neighborhood sound, “Bff”, with its upbeat pace but romantically nostalgic lyrics, and “Dime and Dog”, as it gives us a intense and powerful taste of Jesse’s new sound.
A popular song on the album, “Drama”, one of Jesse’s pre-release hints of this album, was co-written with musical producer and singer, Dylan Brady, from St. Louis. “Drama” is a bold, emotional blast, which give us some insight into Jesse’s battles with anxiety.
Jesse Rutherford continues to amaze me with his creativity, with and without his band. His hair is blonde, his diversity is growing, and I am eager to see what Jesse’s solo career has in store for us all. Enjoy his first (independent) masterpiece!