The Neighbourhood combines elements of their Sept. 22-released Hard EP and their Jan. 18-released To Imagine EP in its most recent music video, appropriately titled “Hard to Imagine.” The California-based alternative rock group hangs onto its signature black-and-white aesthetic and L.A. symbolism in the seven-and-a-half minute video, which takes place in what appears to be a dilapidated Hollywood home. Striking visuals and a coherent artistic vision carry frontman Jesse Rutherford and his bandmates through the inspired video project.
An outside shot of the old cracked-stone mansion serves as the background for the title screen. The appearance of red words is perfectly timed to the opening tones of “You Get Me So High” before the screen fades to black and displays the trademark Neighbourhood upside-down house symbol. The bass-heavy beat of “You Get Me So High” ushers in a shot of Rutherford, whose bleach-blonde hair and flannel recall images of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, lighting a joint while slumped against a dusty wall. The first of four songs in the video involves a camera racing through the house, finding band members performing mundane activities like smoking a cigarette or answering a telephone call. The song ends with a time-lapse sunset shot from an outdoor archway that captures an image of the Los Angeles skyline framed by palm trees.
Morning arrives to find Rutherford stalking through the house to a muted recording of “Scary Love,” an upbeat track from To Imagine, to arrive at a makeshift stage on which band members Zach Abels, Mikey Margott, Jeremy Freedman, and Brandon Fried wait to perform. Rutherford takes hold of a microphone chained to the ceiling like a chandelier as the room goes black and bright stadium lights create a perfect silhouette shot of the group. The deep black of the room and Rutherford’s leather jacket contrasted with the bright white light create a sultry feel for the gyrating synthetic beat.
An interlude of muted sounds from “Stuck With Me” creep down the hallway to find a wall telephone suspended in midair in a messy kitchen. The eerie sound morphs into the track from To Imagine as the camera discovers the musicians dispersed throughout a drained pool for the duration of the song. The song ends with the band standing in the back of a wood-lined room with a wall of windows slowly allowing the outside light to flood in.
Again, the telephone symbol returns as black telephone cords wind in criss-cross fashion across the ceiling of a monochromatic corridor. The cords sprawl throughout the disheveled house to the instruments that compose the sound of the final track of the video, “Sadderdaze.” The end of the short compilation is punctuated by the repeated lyrics “They keep on using me,” as the video pans out on the band peering out at L.A. while Rutherford paces during a phone call. A violin, the defining instrument of the unusual sound for the band, screeches as the monochromatic hues shift to dim blue and green and the camera pans to a shot of the evening sun.
The order of the songs in the video seems to spell out the course of a relationship—the uplifting onset of “You Get Me So High” fading quickly to a tragic end in “Sadderdaze.” It’s hard to imagine a better video than “Hard To Imagine.” The combination of songs from The Neighbourhood’s latest EPs and California-centric images stays true to the band’s persona while the fade to color and experimental new sounds hint at a fresh take from the band.
Featured Image by Columbia Records