It was a week of elevating highs and desperate lows. A combat between collective intoxication of national pride with Ireland’s Italian triumph and Northern Ireland’s unfaltering success (and early dismissal) in their debut at Euros 2016, #COYBIG. This elation is juxtaposed with the sobering separatism demonstrated in the murder of MP, Jo Cox. A week after her death, England voted to both leave the EU and people across the world baffled by their panicked and ignorant choice. The videos of this week mirror the harrowing and heartening emotions that have been fraught and felt, simultaneously. A talented twelve year old boy, and Aphex Twin fan from Dublin became a star born from directing RDJ’s first music video in almost two decades. Portishead paid tribute to Cox with their latest release, and Girl Band surprised fans with a delightful treat of another wonderful song and video. If there is anything to be learned this week it is that communication and the act of unity are the most indestructible forces to strengthen any cause. Whether it is willing your team in furthering their position in the fixtures of a sporting event or fighting for a future of progressive attitudes about inclusivity. Sometimes music is the most level headed language to unify people and inspire them to always try to get behind the right cause.
Girl Band – ‘In Plastic’ (Rough Trade)
When Girl Band released their unfathomable debut album, Holding Hands With Jamie last September, ‘In Plastic’ became a song that I couldn’t go a few days without listening to. It’s a sublime display of the band’s versatility and ease with genius instrumental distortions and witty lyrics. When I saw that they had released the video for this song I nearly lost my mind with happiness. Once again, Bob Gallagher has directed the video and it is everything you could have hoped the video would be for this song. A grey scene and a familiar feeling of the sweaty anxiety brought on by the dreaded bag check at airport security brings the tensions of the song alive with the story. Gallagher and Girl Band’s artistic compatibility is so perfect that it will be remembered in the same vein as the pairing of rhubarb and custard, a combination that brings out the best in what is already amazing about the distinct flavours of the other individually.
Portishead – ‘SOS’ (Island Records)
My first impressions of Portishead’s cover and deconstruction of ABBA’s marvellous hit, ‘SOS’, were not favourable. But, after talking about it with friends I began to appreciate what Beth Gibbons was doing with the classic. Beneath the layers of hopping keyboards that inspired involuntary dance movements of the majority of ABBA’s songs, ‘SOS’, included, the lyrics were often melancholic and fuelled by a dissatisfaction in the way humanity can treat one another. The video is stark with an arresting image of Gibbons looking away from camera, which is sometimes intensified by flashes of light. The pared back visuals permit you to fully listen to the depth of the lyrics, “I tried to reach for you / But you have closed your mind.” It is a fitting tribute to Jo Cox, as the politically charged video climaxes with a quote from Cox during her time as an active campaigner, “We have far more in common than which divides us.”
Aphex Twin – CIRKLON3 [Kolkhoznaya mix] (Warp Records)
Things I was doing when I was twelve; experimenting with an horrendous lavender hued iridescent eyeshadow, taking tap dancing lessons and making up little plays with my school pals to perform for my parents and their friends. Ryan Wyer has made his directorial debut-proper at the age of twelve, with the incredibly (if not a little scary) video, the first one in seventeen years to be released by Aphex Twin, for Soundcloud-ish single, ‘CIRKLON3 [Kolkhoznaya mix]. Wyer has been making fan videos of Richard David James’ music for a while now and the preteen shows a genuine affinity with Aphex Twin’s sound. This was definitely one of the most incredible stories of the year, a hopeful beacon for the future.
Beyoncé – ‘Sorry’ (Parkwood / Columbia)
I had a lot of fun watching Beyoncé’s video for ‘Sorry’, mostly because the content of the video permitted the commentary in your head of grow legs and run. Firstly, there is Bey’s narration at the very beginning. Now, call me immature but when she says “Rest in Peace” in the minute long introduction, I was convinced that she was going to finish the sentence with “Sasha Fierce.” Alas, she does not and a charged display of women enjoying their independence ensues. Lemonade is a grittier, less inhibited chapter in Beyoncé’s career and this video and song certainly make you very conscious of the fact that she is a woman that will not be wronged and will use some salty language. Other notable moments come in the form of a cameo from her friend and Tennis superstar Serena Williams twerkn’ it out, Beyoncé choreographed and an armless Queen of the Nile styled character, and finally the sentence that has been on the embittered lips since the release of the record, “Go call Becky with the good hair.”
Deerhoof – ‘The Devil and His Anarchic Surrealist Retinue’ (Upset The Rhythm/ Polyvinyl Records)
Deerhoof definitely deserve a medal for their ability to construct an elaborate song title. They also warrant praise for an equally fun, colourful and imaginative video for said song, ‘The Devil and his Anarchic Retinue.’ This, the current single from Deerhoof’s freshly released album, The Magic, is an experimental and brightly varied track, one that will be revisited throughout the summer. I have also noticed that if you want your video to be current and loyal to 2016’s aesthetic for this genre, then you need to release at least one stop motion animated visual accompaniment to your song. Deerhoof have done a superb job with maintaining their relevance to both fans and critics with this video that can be described as what you imagine happens in our tummy when you compulsively eat a lot of Skittles.