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Videowatch: December 2011/January 2012


This month, we’re winding down from a busy exam/essay period with a double-whammy of videos from the last legs of last year and the first hops of the new one.


It was only a matter of time before the catchiest thing on The Suburbs, and the most unashamedly joyous piece of pop in the whole Arcade Fire catalogue, got some sort of special treatment. Sprawl II continues to be as amazing as it was a year and a half ago, with all those glimmering keyboards and bright synths and disco beats and the fun and the love. The video is a charm as well. It goes completely against my own expectations what a video for this particular song would contain – I certainly never imagined the song to be accompanied by slightly creepy vaguely faceless people twitching and bouncing around – but it works so well. The way it’s been shot and the scenes themselves are a perfect accompaniment: the result is still upbeat which fits the song, but it’s not blatant about it. And it just visually looks damn good – the shot of Regine in the rain, for example. Typical of AF, there’s also a more interactive version should you feel like playing god with the way the video moves.


Not a huge single surprise here – “Underneath the Sycamore” is by far one of the most instant, singalongy songs on Codes and Keys and as such, rife for promotional usage. The song itself isn’t great, but it’s good – it’s not one that leaves the sort of lasting impression you fall in love with an album for but it manages to light up the room and grab the attention whenever it’s on. With it they’re serving a fairly nice slice of slightly noir-ish animation, complete with a nifty little cameo from the creators’ previous video for Death Cab.


The first taster from the upcoming album is a good one. The overall style remains the same as in the past two albums, to the point that we can probably start talking about signature sound by now, but the hinted darker mood of the new album is quietly there: you’ve got the big, colourful pop hooks but this time the often rather romantic and idealistic lyrics that are one of PK’s strong sides have been replaced by paranoia and fear of death. As good as it is, compared to some of the previous PK singles “Saari” sounds a bit less like a spotlight-stealing Moment, but apparently the only reason “Saari” was chosen as the lead single in the first place was because it was the first track finished during the sessions – with that in mind, I think it’s pretty certain to say with their track record that there’s going to be some really excellent material on the album and this is just a small taste of things to come. We’ll see soon enough, hopefully with some gorgeous results.

The video’s good too. Story works, scenes work, suits the music. Looks like the big hits from the last album have given Pariisin kevät a larger budget to work with this time around.


The absolute best thing about the video? Everyone is going all CUH-RAY-ZEEEE and WILD and WACKY, bouncing like nutters all around the sets and generally acting really hyperactively… with the exception of Josh who, bar from the very beginning and end, proceeds to quietly sit down and mope about in his bland gray, almost empty room, to the point that even the camera begins to simply ignore him and his book reading activities. It doesn’t matter why it’s been set up like this, the result is nonetheless the hilarious highlight of an otherwise bog-standard and archetypical “them Peppers sure are crazy” video. The song similarly is something you’d imagine this band could come up with in their sleep, but if you want a fun and bouncy little rock number with a little bit of funky groove to it you could go worse than asking for one from a band who’ve mastered it to the point they can do it while unconscious. In other words, not a particular showstopper moment or a top-of-the-list reason when listing the good things in I’m With You, but it’s hard to not feel the groove bone vibrating to the verse.


That slightly annoying moment when one of the very best songs of last year gets a video seemingly composed of whatever random clips the band had on their phonecams at the time and looking more like a fan video you’d find on Youtube.


It’s no Weezer-goes-Muppets but somehow randomly teaming up with Popeye is exactly like what you’d expect the ever-increasingly surprising Wilco to get around doing. Doesn’t hurt that the resulting video suits Wilco to a T, much like the song is an excellent little capsulation of the more laidback, friendly kind of Wilco they’ve pushed to the front on the last three albums. The key highlight, obviously – the whistle.


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