It was a week of extremes in both the sounds and the aesthetics presented to us in the latest music video releases. We were graced with new music from, lets face it, the bands and artists that have come to be synonymous with soundtracking the summer and coveting the headlining performances at all of the important festivals. Grimes and Metronomy empowered the facial glitter and dad fashion movements, respectively. Then there’s Pet Shop Boys, loved for providing the token musical nostalgia which has, frankly, impeded their transition to make music that is relevant to younger audiences. All of these elements are evident in this compilation of videos, glitter abounds, gold lamé is king and then there is a sobering monochromatic aesthetic that shifts our focus into some kind of existential befuddlement.
It is Eurovision day, and coincidentally, the narrative of the videos mirror what the Eurovision has come to be, outrageous glitziness with dark undertones and songs that will leave you a little unsure after the first listen.
Metronomy – ‘Old Skool’ (Because Music)
The marvellous tepid heat that took Ireland by storm on Thursday was enhanced by Metronomy unveiling their video for ‘Old Skool’, from their forthcoming album, Summer 08. Culturally speaking, the suburbs are rife with sinister happenings often orchestrated by suppressed and deeply insecure characters, in this instance played by Sharon Horgan. Typically, there is a party and the scene is made glamorous with the novel sparkly excess, finger food enhanced with pineapple chunks on cocktails sticks and extraordinary hair of the 1970s. This domestic disco is, in essence, Metronomy’s new video. I have never been more appreciative to have grown up in the countryside, where wild parental parties are few and slugs are allowed to roam free and not captured in glass prisons.
Grimes – ‘California’ (4AD)
“This music makes me cry.” The opening lines to Grimes’ ‘California’ resonates, but not in the way that she intends. Claire Boucher is an artist that befuddles her mass audience. Effortlessly she expels creativity that is so obscure that you can only admire the sincerity of her talent and then Grimes releases something like ‘California’, and immediately you wonder what the hell was going through her head when she recorded this song? There is a lot going on in this video, which reflects this off-kilter and at times irritating single.
Lucius – ‘Gone Insane’ (PIAS Recordings, Mom + Pop Music, Dine Alone)
This video is impressive because it was filmed with stop motion technics, incorporating over 3,000 still photographs to make this 4:29 long video, along with some prosthetics and an animal heart, for good measure. The Brooklyn ensemble are becoming known for their penchant of experimenting with their videos, and it is garnering attention and recognition. They received a Best Animation award from Silver Sound Music Film Video + Band Battle for their 2013 release, ‘Go Home’. Once the facial contortions begin some David Lynch characters come to mind, keep an eye out for resemblances to Eraserhead’s The Lady in the Radiator, and Elephant Man’s, John Merrick. Then watch as Lucius’ Jess Wolfe quite literally goes insane as she sits before a menacing mannequin for a solid minute as the video climaxes.
Pet Shop Boys – ‘Twenty Something’ (x2)
Aptly joining the party that is Eurovision week, is the Pet Shop Boys with the current single from their album, Super. This song catapults Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe back into the ’90s with its abrasive, slightly latin inspired trance melody. The video follows a young delinquent that returns to his young family having served time in a correctional facility. Despite his efforts to better himself, and after his CV is ceremoniously thrown away by a manager of a fast food establishment our leading man retreats to a world of petty crime, but again, to a very dated backdrop. As a twenty-something, I find this song and video mildly offensive.
James Blake ft. Bon Iver – ‘I Need A Forest Fire’ (Polydor)
If you need to unwind then stick on James Blake’s, ’I Need A Forest’, directed by United Visual Artists. The combination of Blake’s soothing electronic beats, Bon Iver’s melodic voice and a continuous stream of therapeutic monochrome visuals, a blend of butterflies and busts (heads, that is) made you feel like you were watching an art installation. Sit back and relax, and you don’t need to worry about getting too close to the screen, no intimidating art gallery security guards can get you.