POPSCREEN: The New Pornographers

'Mutiny, I Promise You,' Dir. Alan Smithee

Dance parties with people in animal suits cavorting about and rubbing hips can fall into two categories: alarmingly scary or mildly amusing. Throw weapons into that mix and you’ve either got a deranged Barney episode or The New Pornographers’ “Mutiny, I Promise You” video.

This is your typical indie pop outfit (think Tilly and the Wall) video: hyper-chromatic garb and lighting, bouncy vocals, DIY sets and props, and relentless, exaggerated theatricality.

The band members begin in an overcrowded cardboard box doing “cool” things like reading Borges and taking Polaroid shots of each other. A girl with two long braids (you’ll recognize her as Mel from “Flight of the Conchords”) and a man decked out in tan flannel travel from Tokyo to Paris in another cardboard box.

The deliveries of weapons labeled “mutiny” to a furry unicorn and a comely bear reveal the ultimate literality of this video; the plot sequence sticks closely to the lyrics, like a child’s storybook, though the video is made more complex and obscure by a puckish dark-humored whimsicality.

Collectively, these elements are fitting for a New Pornographers’ video. A.C. Newman’s power poppy voice can either draw you in and make you want to have your own weird little party or else repel you by being just a tad too chipper for an ordinary day. Either way, the video at least borders on entertaining.

Fortunately for the play-acting band members, this party has a happy ending. “And here’s the mutiny I promised you / And here’s the party it turned into,” the song repeats over and over again.

Alas, the fatal dagger of the unicorn hero subdues the mutinous uprising of the gun-wielding bear in a plaid fisherman’s hat, and everyone continues to bounce around playing cardboard instruments. Hooray.

—Natalie J. So

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