Once again, it’s time for the return of Videodrome, our semi-regular showcase for the best music videos around. Since the form has given the world game-changing helmers in both the blockbuster and arthouse realms, it’s always important to keep an eye on promos, and indeed, one could argue that there’s more invention to be found in the short form than there is in features. So, without further ado, the five best music videos we’ve seen in the last few weeks. As ever, any tips and suggestions are more than welcome.
Passion Pit – “Take A Walk”
After a couple of years away, Massachusetts electro-pop collective Passion Pit are back with a new record that, on the evidence of the first couple of cuts, is set to blend the same big, anthemic choruses of their first album with some smarter, almost short-story like songwriting. For the first single from the album, “Take A Walk,” they’ve enlisted David Wilson, who was behind the memorable videos for Metronomy‘s “The Bay” and The Maccabees‘ “Pelican,” for that rarest of things — a clip that genuinely makes you wonder how they did it. It begins with the band’s mightily-haired frontman Michael Angelakos throwing a rubber ball, and that dives into the POV of that ball, as it flies through suburbia, mountains, streams, farmland and cities, eventually re-uniting with Angelakos on a rooftop before flying off into the skies again. It perhaps fits the air-pumping music better than the post-recession lyrics, but it’s undeniably spectacular, to the extent that we’re genuinely puzzled as to how it was achieved. Hopefully a making of will be along before too long to solve the mystery…
Fiona Apple – “Every Single Night”
We don’t get enough of the octopus (octopi?) in modern cinema — outside of the gruesome lunch in “Oldboy,” at least. Fortunately, Fiona Apple is here to step in, with her first video and single in seven years. The loquaciously-titled The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do is in stores today, after a delay of at least a year, and if the first single “Every Single Night” is anything to go by, it’s a fine return. And that’s doubly so for the video, which is directed by video artist Joseph Cahill (a sometime collaborator of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” director Benh Zeitlin). It’s in essence a performance video, but full of some eye-popping imagery; Apple dangling from wires like a marionette, wearing an octopus on her head, feeding an alligator, and stalked by a giant snail (and plenty of tiny ones). Lord knows what it all means, but we haven’t been able to shake some of the frames out our mind for the past week.
Best Coast – “The Only Place”
What’s your favorite Best Coast song? We like the one about being heartbroken and getting stoned. That might not narrow it down, now that we think about it, but the lead single of their Jon Brion-produced second record of the same name, “The Only Place” is a little different — an ode to living in California, where it’s warm and sunny and you can have fun all the time. And in terms of a video that does the same thing, director Ace Norton (who’s been behind clips for Bloc Party, LCD Soundsystem, She & Him, Foster The People and Regina Spektor) pretty much hits the nail on the head. Sometimes you don’t need to push the artform forward so much as just reflect the vibe of the song, and that’s perfectly done here; the mucking about that Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno get up to here is positively infectious. Not high art, but an awful lot of fun, and one that has us on the verge of moving west immediately.
Beach House – “Lazuli”
“Bloom,” the third album from Baltimore duo Beach House, is one of the best, and best reviewed, of the year so far. And “Lazuli” is perhaps the highlight. And Allen Cordell has done it proud with this video. The Korean-born director previously worked with the band on the outstanding clip for “Walk In The Park,” off the last record (he’s worked with Cloud Nothings and Spank Rock in the meantime), and comes up with something just as weird here. Following a barfly, a young woman and a teenage boy who find themselves drawn to another dimension, it’s a bit like if Richard Kelly made a cosmic version of “Tron,” and displays some impressive effects that somehow perfectly encapsulate the band’s organic synths and eerie harmonies.
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – “Man On Fire”
Once best known (admittedly not by very many people) as the star of “Thunderbirds,” Brady Corbet swiftly changed tracks to the indie world with Gregg Araki’s spectacularly good “Mysterious Skin,” and hasn’t looked back since, with roles in “Melancholia,” “Martha Marcy May Marlene” and Antonio Campos‘ “Simon Killer” in the last few years. He’s not been shy about his directorial ambitions, making the short “Protect You + Me” a few years back, and he’s flexing those muscles with the video for “Man On Fire,” the lead single on the new album from folk-rockers Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zero. It’s the best thing on the record by a million miles, and Corbet does it justice (with the help of MMMM/”Girls” DoP Jody Lee Lipes) with a lovely collection of dancers, culminating with a shot of the New York City Ballet that’s one of our favorite moments of anything in the year so far.