Smith Westerns and Focus Creeps spend a Weekend together

The second narrative has the trio assembled outside a small building that displays the national flag of the United States. Armed with axes and a gun, and still smoking, the band walk across empty fields to a wood. They appear to be three discontented youths seeking to vent their frustrations on something or someone. Near the end of the video their intentions become clear.

They carve the initials ‘SW’ into a tree, and the stripped bark reveals wood that is as red as a flesh wound. The tree is felled by guitarist Max Kakacek after numerous attempts but, stripped of their hooded-jackets, brothers Cullen and Cameron Omori look more apprehensive and vulnerable than victorious at the prospect of the falling tree. Before they walk back from the woods there’s a lingering shot of the axe embedded in the remaining stump, suggesting perhaps that the physical exertion has, ultimately, been a futile exercise.

The third extended narrative has the band spending their weekend at a shopping mall. They pick up trinkets like nail polish and jewellery as the lyric turns its attention to “a girl like you”; the suggestion being that they are looking for a gift for an absent girlfriend. In fact no women or girls actually appear in the video at all, adding to the sense of frustration encountered in the song’s narrative.

There are only two images of women in the video and both are sexualized fantasy portraits. One is on the cover of a porn DVD, browsed by the band in a music store, and the other is a semi-nude Art Nouveau print that adorns a wall in the domestic interior shots.

Smith WesternsThe lack of real female company sees the band pursuing competitive masculine activities. In a parallel to the tree-felling, at the mall the young men play arcade games that focus on driving, scoring basketball hoops and air hockey. So, one way of dealing with the absence of women is shown through the band embracing apparently masculine pursuits, but another consequence of the lack of women is explored in a more surprising way.

Although the mall trinkets could be read as intended for a girl, singer Cullen Omori tries on one of the rings, and is later shown inserting an earring into his ear: it turns out that the jewellery store purchase was for him, not a girlfriend.

The line “a girl like you” is timed to accompany a shot of his smooth-skinned youthful face, surrounded by long dark hair: the meaning of that line in the video is more complex than it appears in the song.

Here the video adds a layer of meaning: maybe Omori is not looking for a girl “like” another girl but, in fact, someone “like” himself? The suggestion of self-love runs through the rest of the video: just as the band carved their initials into the tree, so Omori is depicted having the band’s name emblazoned on his jacket by a mall spray-paint artist.