Yup that’s right. We’re still talking about the infectious “dark pop” single from The Neighbourhood – “Sweater Weather”. For those of you newly introduced to the band, The Neighbourhood is a five-piece alternative band hailing from the small town of Thousand Oaks, California. “Sweater Weather” exemplifies their atmospheric, melodic, and hip-hop influenced sound as well as their black & white aesthetic. In fact, it was the first song that Zach, Jeremy and Jesse wrote together as a band. An early demo of the song highlights Jesse’s rap/hip-hop background with a rapped chorus. (You know you wanna check that shit out here.) But if you caught on a little late, you missed something beautiful. You missed the ORIGINAL video for “Sweater Weather”.
Though “Sweater Weather” was the single that brought The NBHD to the masses, it was “Female Robbery” that initiated all the hype about this band. They were shrouded in mystery when “Female Robbery” was released in 2012. The only details out there were the number of members in the band and their location. Out of this shadow emerged The NBHD as we know them now in stark black & white. After more murmuring and heightened interest, the enigmatic Hoodlums released a completely different track from the first – a song about fleeting teenage affection. “Sweater Weather”.
Alongside the single comes this beautiful video presented in split screen that follows an indiscriminate young couple as their fancy flourishes and fades on a bright, black & white, California beach. They tangle, they separate, they coalesce, they disappear. In pure rapture of the other’s company. The video frames change to the heartbeat of the simple drum line. Halfway through when the song slows down, the camera takes you deeper into a forest, looking at the world through a kaleidoscope. (Yes a kaleidoscope according to Brian the drummer.) In one of the last repetitions of “’Cuz it’s too cold”, the woman flickers out in the bottom half of the screen. The denouement shows the man pulling the woman close to keep her warm as she disappears for the last time, leaving him alone on his solitary, color-bleached beach.
The video matched the melody, the aesthetic, and the storyline of two innocent young lovers all too perfectly. It had reached a monumental amount of views when The Neighbourhood took it down only to replace it with this video.
Though this video, version #2, is still well done and keeps in their black & white aesthetic, the charm is abandoned. If anything, the creation of a new video was a political move. It was released at the perfect time in their rise in popularity – just on the upswing of “Sweater Weather” on radio waves – to introduce their cute little faces since the original did not (except for Jesse’s). It became more of a simple introduction to the band (and possibly even a sneaky move to endear the listeners to them by merit of their beauty) instead of an artistic representation of young love. [Listen to The NBHD’s response to this question here.]
What irks me the most about version #2 is its complete disregard for the song; it’s so generic that it could accompany any of their songs. The only reason I know it’s for this one is that the frame shifts match up to the rhythm. The entire story line – the heart of the song – is surrendered. The fleeting relationship – if I’d even stoop to call it that – which is portrayed in this version just feels empty. There’s no chemistry as there was before. It also contradicts the relationship set down in the lyrics. In #2, we see the woman alone most of the time, pining for the man (Jesse) whereas in the original video, we see a mutual relationship and infatuation (until the esoteric disappearance of the woman at the end).
Now why in the hell would they take down the original video? Well, as mentioned before, this was a political move. But a forced political move, if that. One that was necessary due to external circumstances. Isn’t it suspicious that the second video wasn’t introduced in addition to the first video? Why was the original removed? Well…rumors abound. But here’s the truth. There was a lawsuit, Jesse explains in an interview. This is even more bizarre seeing that a) the original video only has two “actors” in it (one of which – the man – was a current band member) and b) is filmed on a public beach. So who sued? The damn seagulls? Well, you just think that one over. I’m not gonna point you in any direction.
“Sweater Weather” is a song whose lyrical content could easily be overlooked. It isn’t just a stupid song about skinny Californian hipsters needing to wear sweaters when the temperature dips below – God forbid! – 70 degrees. The original video guides the listener to the heart of the song: how when you’re in a relationship you feel like you have your “head in the clouds but my gravity’s centered”. That the words to express love don’t have to be lofty and neither do the actions. You can say “I Love You.” just by sharing your sweater when it gets too cold.