If Fallout 3 & A Clockwork Orange were combined into a single universe, it might look like the one depicted in this video.
If you're a fan of Alternative music, then chances are that you've heard of a new group called, Foster the People, or at least their song, "Pumped Up Kicks." Immediately upon hearing them, chances are you that you compared them to MGMT
, which is admittedly tempting since they're both modern indie dance pop/rock groups. However, the comparison is also deceptively easy, since what I believe the band does is take the musically groundwork laid out by bands like MGMT, then take them to the next level, lyrically. "Pumped Up Kicks" for example, become well-known due to its controversial lyrics, which examine the psyche behind a possible school shooter. Sure, they also have the catchy dance beats, but they also aim to go deeper into their content then most bands today are willing to go.
"Helena Beat" is their follow-up single to "Pumped Up Kicks," and with it, I believe they further reiterate this approach. Although the lyrics are up for interpretation, I think the singer generally speaks about whether or not to choose to embrace that darker side of yourself that we all have. Do you hug the prison you've been living in, or are you going to tie your hands to a chair so you don't fall that way? Since singer and band namesake, Mark Foster supposedly had a rough childhood and was bullied in school among other things, it's not hard to see where this struggle comes from. It's also not hard to see why the singer talks about it so authentically. He hasn't fallen down that path yet, but there's certainly times when you take a look at the door and wonder what's on the other side. Could it possibly be better? Or is it just better to put of the fight?
The video deals with this same struggle. In the world of the video, it's the post-apocalypse
. Cities are burning, the people have rioted and the world has generally gone to crap. You don't need to know the reason why. You just need to know what it is. At the beginning, the singer, Mark Foster drives in his van down a deserted road, probably away from the burning cities of civilization where he came from, as we see the last remnants of his world stored in his van. He holds a postcard that he keeps close at hand, he has gas masks hanging up, and of course, a dog.
Driving along the road, Foster stops at what most of us would consider the classic ambush spot, where there's various items strewn along the road , making perfect places of cover, and of course something to draw you into the ambush, in this case a baby carriage just sitting in the middle of the road. And of course, Foster falls for the trap, is captured by a band of juvenile hooligans wearing masks, carrying primitive weapons, and wearing worn clothes, and is beaten as blood splatters toward the camera. The rest of the band, who are elsewhere, are also captured and the whole band is taken by the hooligans in Mark's van. In the van, Mark witnesses the devolved antics of the group, which include making menacing faces and gestures at him. At one point, the hooligans in the van casually run over somebody in the middle of the road, forcing them to wipe the blood off with the windshield wipers.
Then they get to the base of the hooligans. What follows is a montage where the hooligans dehumanizes and beats the humanity out of the band in a variety of occasionally disturbing ways. In addition, they're also used for varietal ways of entertainment, including being forced to play music at gunpoint, among other things. And since it's the end of the world, there's also dancing involved.
Eventually, this leads to Foster being tied up, put in a pool of water, horrified as some sort of mask is put over his face. Across from him, an older man, also in the same contraption, willingly puts the mask over his face. Then the process of some sort of transmutation occurs as bolts of electricity pass between the two men. When it's over, the old man lifts his mask up, which reveals his face to look like Emperor Palpatine
after being zapped with his own lightning bolts. The life is clearly drained away from his face, he's considerably aged, then he dies. Foster on the other hand lifts his mask up, and finds himself deaged to that of a child, or about the same age of the hooligans. Which of course leads to the conclusion of the big twist that all the hooligans have just given themselves youth by taking it away from the willing older population who don't want to live in the world anymore. Since they're youthful, they're free to wreak havoc in their own little society, recruiting others into it, usually forcibly.
In the end, the Foster of the video succumbs to the madness. Finding his old postcard out in the desert, he takes a look at it, then a look at the burning city on the horizon. What's done is done. Society is finished. He's now young again. If you can't beat them, then join them. So he joins the group of delinquent hooligans and eats the postcard that was once his remaining remnant of a past life. It's the end of the world: Let's dance.
Taking a look at it, this certainly is the most striking music video I've seen all year, and it's certainly one I'll ponder for a long time to come. It combines both a cinematic feel of a few key works, as Foster describes it as Mad Max
meets Lord of the Flies
, and makes it into a haunting tale of the darker side of humanity. I wouldn't exactly say that I'd watch it a ton since the imagery is deeply haunting, but it is a grand piece of art. Not many musicians simple have these kinds of balls, and even fewer put them towards making a good point. If you haven't heard of Foster The People, then check them out. You might like what you hear and see.