PWR BTTM – Ugly Cherries (Music Video)
by Steven Spoerl
Now that the site’s been brought back up to speed on some of the week’s best songs and full streams, it’s time to turn an eye towards some genuinely great music videos. Roah Summit’s soft, dreamlike “Take Care” kicked off this week’s viewing necessities, shortly followed by Honduras’ lightly deranged “Paralyzed“, Girl Band’s deliriously unhinged “Paul“, Sunshine & The Blue Moon’s nostalgia-ready “Lucy“, and Nano Kino’s poised “Never Seemed To Happen“. Joining those titles were The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s frantic “The Ballad of Joe Buck“, Of Montreal’s animated adventure “Last Rites at the Jane Hotel“, Worriers’ self-effacing “Most Space“, and Foals’ visually stunning lyric clip for “A Knife In the Ocean“. While the feature could have gone to any one of those entries, it felt most appropriate to give it to PWR BTTM’s intentionally bold video for the title track off of their forthcoming record, Ugly Cherries.
PWR BTTM has surfaced an astonishing number of times as this site’s entered its Brooklyn-based era, something that was all but guaranteed a few songs into my first experience of the band’s exhilarating live show. Of course, it also helps that their focus on the area has intensified as of late (the duo recently announced plans to move to the city) and two DIY institutions (Father/Daughter and Miscreant) have both thrown their weight behind the band’s forthcoming record. A lot of that record has been evidenced through this site’s live coverage but the only official preview thus far has been “Ugly Cherries” itself, the record’s shamelessly, refreshingly bombastic title track.
For the video, the camera’s lens places the song’s guitarist/vocalist Benjamin Walter Hopkins front, center, and sidescreen. Almost immediately the viewer’s brought to confront Hopkins’ complete embrace of identity. Shots alternate and contrast the co-existing versions of Hopkins: the to-the-elevens glittery drag queen and the dressed-down lounger. Curiously, Hopkins’ bandmate Liv Bruce is all but absent throughout the video, though they’ve issued an assurance that this is intentional and that Bruce will be prominently featured in the band’s forthcoming clip. It’s a strange move because the duo’s collaborative partnership is one of PWR BTTM’s defining characteristics but eschewing that aspect does allow for the band’s presentation of gender identity to be thrown into a sharp focus on an individual level rather than presenting it as a combined effort (even though the two aren’t mutually exclusive).
Of course, this does nothing to detract from the actual music itself, which- as always- is a deeply felt, ridiculously impressive composition. The band’s commitment to both aesthetic and craft is allowed to thrive in the music video format and “Ugly Cherries” makes the most out of that opportunity right out of the gate. While it’ll definitely be interesting to see what’s in store as a companion piece (and going forward from there), it’s incredibly hard to argue against “Ugly Cherries” being representative of the band at their fiercest. Glamorous, unapologetic, hallucinatory, and surprisingly forceful, it’s both obviously compelling and a perfect way to make a statement. Fortunately, that statement’s left with a lot of room for expansion- something the band will undoubtedly capitalize on with no shortage of conviction and mischievous glee.