By now, you would expect Xiu Xiu to use videos to make you feel uncomfortable. After all, their latest clip, for “Dear God, I Hate Myself”, is a single shot of band member Angela Seo trying to induce vomiting, which she eventually does all over bandmate Jamie Stewart (obviously that link is extremely NSFW).
Their new video for “Honeysuckle”, however, shows that there are different kinds of ‘uncomfortable’. Director Amir Shoucri creates a seriously unsettling day-in-the-life of Seo, as subtle and suggestive as “Dear God, I Hate Myself” was direct and explicit.
The opening shot of a catfish taking its last breath lets you know that something’s wrong, and from there an otherwise ordinary day is somehow turned into a gross-out film. Every innocuous act — brushing teeth, rubbing an itch, cutting an apple — becomes repulsive, through close angles and disorienting editing. Rows of fresh fruit are intercut with shots of trash on the ground to stomach-churning effect. Even when Seo finally cracks a smile towards the clip’s end, it’s rendered horrific.
The refrain of “Honeysuckle” goes, “I get up, and my day is ruined again”. That concept of a bad day, a nightmare where everything goes wrong from the moment you wake up, is conveyed expertly by Shoucri, without resorting to shock tactics or explicit footage. It’s a real trick to make you re-examine the ordinary or everyday and find something there you don’t like. Try to explain why to someone else, though, and you’ll be lost for words.