Deerhoof – Exit Only (Music Video)

by Steven Spoerl

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November’s second week has had a fairly strong start for music videos. In just a few days we’ve already seen an entrancingly simplistic clip for Mitski‘s Song of the Year candidate “Townie“, a mesmerizing and realism-heavy video for WATERS’ “I Feel Everything“, and a colorful art spree to accompany Caddywhompus‘ excellent “Company“. While all of those were great, they lacked one thing that only Deerhoof’s insanity-fueled video for “Exit Only” had: Michael Shannon. His presence in any form of visual media is going to be impossible to overlook and “Exit Only” is no exception.

Shannon’s already staked a claim for being one of this generation’s finest actors, with his work in Take Shelter ranking among some of the greatest performances in film history. While he’s still not exactly a household name, his quietly excellent body of (often criminally overlooked) work does manage to draw some career parallels to Deerhoof. La Isla Bonita, Deerhoof’s most recent record, deserves to be heralded as a career highlight for a band who remain wildly inventive and remarkably consistent. “Exit Only” is one of that record’s most unapologetically raw moments and now it’s got an appropriately off-the-rails video as an accompaniment.

The Vice Cooler-directed clip opens on a shot of Michael Shannon opposing himself at a table; a CD player in front of the one sitting at the right and a book in the hands of the one seated on the left. It’s an immediately arresting image that’s bathed in murky tones, sharp contrasts, and soft saturation. A fine start and a fleeting glimpse of the gorgeously subtle work that DoP Dalton Blanco lends this entire clip. A CD’s placed in the player, a look is exchanged, the track surges forward, and Shannon gets to do what he does best: lose his entire mind. There’s a series of torments that the headphone-wearing Shannon unleashes on his meek counterpart via some surrealist connection before things escalate even further. It’s a surprisingly brutal and harrowing clip before the climactic reveal triggers an explosive end and it’s a commendably arresting clip that should stand as yet another notch of complete success in the belts of everyone involved. Go get lost in the madness.

Watch “Exit Only” below and order La Isla Bonita from Polyvinyl here.