Posted by: dougery | February 5, 2011

Music Review Saturday (Apparently): Caribou’s “Odessa”

Firstly, I realize that this isn’t the Black Keys’ “Tighten Up” nor is this, in fact, Monday. Relax (Don’t do it, when you wanna go to it). I remembered linking that particular vid some posts back and figured double-dipping wasn’t kosher. So instead you get this gem by Daniel Snaith (aka ‘Caribou’ aka one of the coolest dudes in the world). Not only is the song one of the best 2010 had to offer but the video is lush, to quote Sgt Hatred, “I’ll say it again, lush!” It is also appropriately seasonal and violent, perhaps uncomfortably so to all my Chicago friends (although to be fair, the snowy passages in the video are much more reminiscent of New England / Canada than the Windy City).

The primary effect of the visual component here is the overlapping of images, the dissolve of one sequence into another, which is both apropos for the layered electronic music we’re listening to and the way a person might experience the world after significant trauma (the theme, or at least a them of the video). While always open to interpretation, the lyrics as well as the story told in the video seem to recount a woman finally leaving an abusive relationship. She is running away a la Rabbit from Rabbit Run and like Updike’s fascinatingly unlikable protagonist she appears to be leaving behind more than just a lover but a child as well.

0.06: Here is our fleeing woman staggering around and in need of some serious medical attention. At this point it is far too early to tell what has caused this injury but the images filtering in and out of focus are sinister: a leering man, crackling flames, the back of someone walking away. One of the things I love about this stunning opening sequence is how blissful the woman looks. It’s almost as if she has been trepanned and is on some sort of vision quest instead of suffering an accident or having been attacked.

0.20: The first of many wilderness images, this one a wolf or one of those pet dogs that may as well be wolves they resemble their wild cousins so much. Grinning with teeth barred wide. There is also what might be a Native American holding up an antler although this is pure speculation on my part but adds to the mysticism of a person on a quest of self discovery.

0.29: One of the first fleeting shots of a child, a kind of sleep-eyed blond girl with a look that somehow combines innocence and judgment on her face. A terrific juxtaposition from all of the threatening shots thus far. And immediately it goes up in flames. Shortly hereafter the lyrics commence and with it the start of the story. An uninjured woman is walking away, looking over her shoulder, getting in a car. Yet she doesn’t drive away straight off and there he is, looming over her, all mouth and scratchy beard.

1.46: Eventually she gets out of the car to get some air and it all comes flooding back. There are some great moments here where images of her child literally rise up out of a frozen river as chunks of ice break and drift. A baby mountain goat stands stock still on a snowy incline.

2.11: The overlapping images make for a great travel montage. The eerie way the car is driving in slow motion yet constantly dissolving into the shots of a rural winter country give the impression that there is bad weather or perhaps all of this is a dream. At this point in the music video a motel’s sign spliced in with the words ‘vacancy’ in bright orange. Vacant is surely another way to describe the look on the woman’s face from the beginning of the song, who, and maybe I’ve just been watching too much Dexter these days, resembles Dexter’s cop sister a great deal.

2.45: The end of a kind of dream sequence where we see the woman sleeping on the motel bed while more images of the life she is running from fade in and out.

3.45: Although your guess is as good as mine, the endlessly repeated “She can say” of the song’s ‘chorus’ if one can call it  that, to me suggests the mother worrying about what her daughter will think about being abandoned. When you hear it repeated so many times it starts to transform into other things, ‘She can’t stay,” “She can sing,” “She can sink,” “She can think,” and many others. It also functions as a kind neurotic thought worm digging away at the mother as she drives further into the mountains. “Who know’s what she’s gonna say?”

4.09: The accident. Mercifully brief. barely shown. And shortly thereafter we see that the young mountain goat isn’t alone after all but has a mom and pop of it’s own.

5.06: The video ends with a great many shots of relentless natural forces, the slow movement of an icy river, the soft flames from the accident that don’t seem to be affected by how cold it is. These suggest some sort of tide that keeps sweeping us along and that any kind of breaking off from this slow creep will result in a violent backlash. It’s not exactly heartwarming. But then again this isn’t a very uplifting song. But damn if it isn’t beautiful.

ps- In other news I’ve revamped my ‘Reviews‘ page and updated it so that now if you are dying to know what I thought about that Swedish child-vampire movie, well there you go.


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