MGMT’s new video for the infectious “Kids” is the equivalent of Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby ice cream: it’s really busy and there’s way too much going on, but somehow all the different sensations meld into a fascinating, if very strange, mix.
Of course, there’s the question of why is the synth pop band (one of the more interesting new groups to emerge in the last few years) releasing a video now for a song that came out eight months ago, but that would be quibbling where there’s so much to digest here.
Directed by Ray Tintori, who also helmed MGMT’s trippy clips for “Time to Pretend” and “Electric Feel,” “Kids” is six videos rolled into one.
It opens with a gentle, string interlude not on the single with a roiling, uncontrolled fire and a quote from Mark Twain about monsters (In a note on its website, the band remarks that “Kids, the first song MGMT ever wrote in 2003, has grown into some kind of monster). As the music bursts into the bouncy synth intro we’re familiar with, a toddler in his crib is being taunted by monsters– not the cute, furry kind like on “Sesame Street,” but ones with antennae; gross, crustacean-like things that look like something out of “Pan’s Labyrinth.”
Okay, a little side bar here. I’m sure some of this is blue screen in the opening, but when the little kid is crying as he runs past the monsters on the street, I wanted to call Child Protective Services. Who let their kid be in this clip? Whatever money the parents make from the kid’s acting job should go into a fund for therapy later. The kid is going to need it. I may have nightmares and am I’m a lot older than this tot.
But quite frankly, I don’t know what’s scarier: the monsters that haunt the toddler or the first glimpse of the band dressed like woodland nymphs descended from outer space. You gotta be pretty secure to wear those silvery outfits. But before we can really contemplate that, the video twists into a demented puppet show and then into anmation where little bunnies morph into witches, ghosts and dancing pigs and then, we think, slices of ham and pizza. We don’t want to give away the ending, but it sort of ties it all together.
I don’t really know what any of it means, but I’m endlessly fascinated by it. More importantly, the clip is what videos should be: a further interpretation of the band’s art and MGMT is nothing if not a band with psychedelic, deeply catchy but off-kilter pop songs. Worth the eight-month wait? You bet.