The only thing unsurprising about Miike Snow‘s latest videos for their new album, Happy To You, is their choice to use director Andreas Nilsson. The Swedish director’s resume includes the group’s video for “Rabbit,” and work for Swedish stars Fever Ray, The Knife, Peter, Björn & John, and José González. Nilsson’s work is often bizarre and clashing, thrusting dark imagery into the foreground.
Go full circle, and stop at Nilsson’s video series for Miike Snow’s two singles “Paddling Out” and “The Wave.” With “Paddling Out” the abstract video series begins the story with hapless abductees brutally transfigured (by a chainsaw) by blonde alien twins into perfect humans named Jean Noel. Following the alien ship crashes into Earth during “The Wave.” The Jean Noels run aimlessly until they discover a playground of dead girls with police officers digging mass graves while eating donuts. There is no dialogue. There is no explanation. There is just the music and a lot of alarming imagery.
During an interview with Noisey (copied below), lead singer Andrew Wyatt explained, “If there is a path between the different events that makes sense for you…it’s more just about the images in the videos.” The open-ended response certainly leaves room for interpretation. Pontus Winnberg, one half of the group’s production, offers some more direction “In the broad sense it is about technology and our relationship with technology. When the world is getting more global, everything is more and more becoming the same.”
While art should be left for interpretation, conservatives might question whether the imagery is appropriate for general audiences. And unfortunately, they might be right. The most popular comment on Youtube for the video “The Wave” reads, “If your confused watch paddling out!!! If you did and your still confused, join the club.” What’s concerning is how those confused will interpret and project the message. Mass graves, donut eating cops, chainsaw plastic surgery isn’t commonplace in contemporary music videos. While it’s refreshing to see art that forces conversations like this, will people actually have them? Instead, like the desensitized generation that laughed at Jackass until someone died, these videos may just appear humorous.
What do you think? Should Miike Snow provide more explanation? Does pop culture allow for off color art? Below are the two videos for “Paddling Out” and “The Wave.”
Miike Snow’s Happy To You was released earlier this month. You can listen to Miike Snow’s sampler from the new album. The group will begin their North American tour next week with stops at Coachella before ending on the East Coast.