SUB POP RECORDS
“KISSING THE LIPLESS”
May 17, 2004
Hi, everybody! It’s Andy Gesner and the staff from Hip Video Promo firmly ensconced back in the great Garden State! One of the extraordinary highlights of my recent tour of the country was on April 1st, 2004: I got to feel the all encompassing Seattle/Sub Pop vibration directly from its epicenter. Props to Megan Jasper and Lacey Swain from Sub Pop for being such lovely hosts and giving me the grand tour of Sub Pop HQ. Today, we’re pleased to bring you “Kissing the Lipless”, the latest video from one of the leading lights of indie nation – The Shins. The consistently intriguing four-piece has now released two of the most critically heralded indiepop albums of the decade: the genial Oh! Inverted World, and the tougher (but no less charming)Chutes Too Narrow.
For the Shins, the three-minute song form has always been a canvas set for gentle experimentation. Frontman and principal songwriter James Mercer has always been unafraid to build unusual chords and adventurous melodies into his classic pop songs. In “Kissing the Lipless”, Mercer has crafted a melody that is simultaneously unique, immediate, and acrobatic – his voice, friendly and articulate, soars into the infectious verses with characteristic grace. Fusing angular electric guitar and delicate synthesizer to a gorgeous bed of insistently-strummed acoustic guitar, “Lipless” sparkles with that peculiar luminescence that The Shins’ music invariably generates.
Perhaps unsurprisingly from a group so committed to exploring social anxiety in their lyrics, The Shins have heretofore opted against appearing in their own clips. Prior Shins videos have featured meticulously-detailed homages to famous indie bands, corporate satire, artful animation and set design: everything but the band members themselves. We’ve always enjoyed these clips – and the aura of mystery they’ve created – but we’re also pleased to announce that “Kissing the Lipless”, is, in part, a performance clip that features all four Shins in vivid color.
The video catches the band in their element: the hip but unpretentious environs of James Mercer’s Portland, Oregon basement home studio. Dressed in t-shirts and looking Sunday-morning scruffy, the clip presents the band as they are: musicians, compadres, attuned to each other, concentrating on the song. Mercer himself rarely addresses the camera directly – instead, he looks skyward, strumming his acoustic firmly, determinedly, and singing with a singular precision and earnestness.
Interspersed among the shots of the band is footage of an ice skater displaying human foibles within his personable and charming performance. He may be semi-imaginary: he emerges out of thin air, and, at the end of the song, dissipates. His leaps, twirls, and twists are perfectly coordinated with the music and exude a personality throughout. Although his tricks are competently executed, there’s something odd about him; juxtaposed with Mercer’s literate narrative of a relationship in trouble, the effect is disquieting, but impactful. Is his actual technical ability the focus, or is it his total commitment and personal investment in what may ultimately be a somewhat laughable performance? Is this a commentary on the nature of grace, a meditation on the difficulty and vulnerability that accompanies performance and broken relationships, a self-critical commentary on the group’s artfulness? While the juxtaposition of the band’s own performance may provide some clue, The Shins still leave the viewer guessing.
As always, The Shins are intriguing, thought-provoking – they raise questions, make associations, and leave viewers and listeners with images and ideas to think about long after they’ve hit the stop button. Here at HIP Video Promo we are proud to ring the bell for round 2 of our indefatigable crusade to have you love and respect this band and the videos they so fastidiously labor over. Many thanks to Megan Jasper and Lacey Swain at Sub Pop for allowing us to be a part of The Shins progress. If you need more info, copies of Chutes Too Narrow, Sub Pop or Shins stickers, posters and buttons, or would like to see or interview The Shins while they are on tour, call me at 732-613-1779, or email info@HIPVideoPromo.com . You can also visitwww.SubPop.com to obtain up-to-the-minute Shins news.
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For info about The Shins’ previous video, “The Past and Pending” click HERE
For info about The Shins’ previous video, “So Says I” click HERE