It all serves to center Neighborhoods around the experience of life in a community. With his trills of synthesizer, Hood is one participant among many, his listeners joining him on the porch as he watches the day go by. Because his contributions are musical, and not vocal, he tends to flit around the edges of the scene she’s crafting, a friendly ghost who comments on what he sees without actually affecting it. His synths swirl through the trees. They flutter and flap and wave goodbye from the backseat of a departing car. He’s full of good humor—Laraaji with dirt under his fingernails.


When a young boy is teased for having “a sweetheart” in “After School,” Hood gamefully joins in the taunt, echoing their sing-song melody. He allows himself to be carried back to the giddy ecstasy of puppy love, and the schoolyard chant suddenly flushes and blooms and becomes dusted with the bittersweet melodies that swirl around it. It’s a generous reminder that childhood emotions aren’t childish in the moment they’re first felt, and a subtle suggestion that they live on well into our adulthood, even if they’ve become practically unrecognizable.

The net effect is strange—listening to kids talk about buying peanuts and 7Up shouldn’t be this interesting—and strangely sweet. There’s not even a hint of the darkness that lurks in most adult depictions of childhood, that sense of spoilage that seeps into any look back at better days: From this perspective, after all, we know that good times end. Instead, Hood seems to suggest that we can escape backwards to a childlike stability, even if only in our minds, even if we didn’t experience it ourselves. Such functional escapism, to use critic Grayson Haver Currin’s term, feels decadent in 2019, when the world demands so much engagement. But it also feels necessary. Call it sound healing for your inner child.