The latest video from French synth-pop quartet Phoenix — a mix of “Trying to Be Cool” and “Drakkar Noir,” both off their latest album, Bankrupt! — is a feast of eye candy, with one cheeky image giving away to another quickly. It all goes by so fast that it’s easy to forget the proclamation at the beginning of the clip, that this is a live performance. But somehow, after whistling keyboardist-bassist Deck D’Arcy throws his jacket at a coatrack (and misses!) as he enters the gutted warehouse that Phoenix are performing in, the group manage to keep the song pounding along through any number of visual distractions. There’s a red spray-paint poof that leaves the image of a chemical compound, a man presenting singer Thomas Mars with a selection of mustaches in a dry-ice-smoke-filled room, a monkey, a cannon, women in bikinis, bubbles, a preteen chess champion (whom Mars bests), a line of snare drums flanked by people rocking out and more. And the band plays on.
The clip, directed by the production team Canada (Scissor Sisters’ “Invisible Light,” Battles’ “Ice Cream”), must have been a nightmare to coordinate but it looks flawless. Perhaps the most impressive feat, however, is how the directors never really leaned on the song’s lyrics, which are full of surrealistic allusions, for any of the imagery. Never are there cannibal boyfriends, ranunculus flowers, mint juleps or the like. But then again, maybe Phoenix just couldn’t summon those so easily when they pressed the Staples-like “cool” button at the beginning of the video.
Bankrupt! is out now via Loyaute/Glassnote Records.