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POPSCREEN: LCD Soundsystem - "North American Scum"

Dir. Ben Dickinson

By James F. Collins, Crimson Staff Writer

Dance-punk guru James Murphy is at it again with LCD Soundsystem’s new over-the-top single, “North American Scum,” and its deliciously scummy space-themed music video. If you’re looking for a carefree journey to the moon, complete with a space battle, mechanical failure, and a hypnotic voyage to an autumnal parallel universe, this is the video for you.

“North American Scum” begins with a vainglorious earth-bound photo shoot, followed by frontman Murphy’s opening of a door labeled “SPACE (outer),” which kicks off this epic adventure. Utilizing funky lo-fi effects, the video brings new meaning to low budget sci-fi; clay-like floating orbs abound, and tin foil is king in this distinctly sixth-grade-diorama setting.

As supertitles like “target acquired” and “we have an anomaly on the space radar” flash across the screen, band members rock out in low-G. But lest you think this is all fun and games, a red-suited space rogue (played by Pat Mahoney, the band’s drummer), soon arrives to threaten peace and stability on Mother Moon.

Murphy and Mahoney duel it out, throwing moon rocks and attacking each other with multicolored space auras. Of course, Murphy is triumphant in this lunar turf battle and even proves to be compassionate when he and his crew save the red-coat rogue from certain death by welcoming him into their ship.

A kick-dance celebration among new friends ensues aboard the ship to the insightful lyrics, “We are North American scum / We are North Americans.” Their celebration is short-lived, though; a “critical failure” occurs and an aberrational gravitational field pulls the band into a psychedelically animated warp zone of fun. Dropping them off in a room filled with autumn foliage and motionless alter egos of the band members, the video reaches its logically illogical conclusion.

At first annoying, then perhaps amusing, the video is ultimately pretty funny. The low-budget effects and cute visual jokes (like a carefully placed DFA Records moon flag) attest to the band’s self-parodying vibe.

The song is rather silly, with lyrics that seem to be written by someone who’s taken a few too many moon rocks to the head. If you can get past the video’s gratuitous moon violence and purposely cheesy sets, then you may just have the right stuff. Good luck, and don’t get killed out there.

—James F. Collins

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