There are times when all it takes for a talented, relatively under-recognized band to break out is a perfect music video. “All In” is one of those videos and should ensure that The Fjords name is firmly on the map. It wasn’t the only music video to impress over the past week or so, though, so, before heaping the necessary praise on that particular clip that it deserves, it’s time to give some others their due. Mark Ronson’s collaboration with Mystikal, “Feel Right“, was given an additional burst of unexpected energy through an unbelievably fierce performance from an unlikely star, White Poppy catered to their haziest impulses with “Confusion“, Buildings embraced lo-fi in “Watershed“, Short Skirts went the visual collage route with “Far Side of Mexico“, Jose Gonzalez continued one of 2015’s most unconventional visual narratives in “Open Book“, and Birdskulls found the perfect visual aesthetic for their 90’s-grunge worship with “Good Enough“. All of those are worth multiple watches, which also holds true for the title in this post’s headline.
As far as thesis shots go, opening on a machine designed to blur the gap between technology and reality tends to yield strong results. “All In” is no exception and winds up taking a startling route to a fiery, hyper-violent finish. After establishing the protagonist of “All In” has all the trappings of an outcast (a video game addiction, model trains, an artistic mind), the plot eventually reveals itself while steadily accumulating compelling subtext. In some extremely strong visual work, we see the protagonist (a young, unnamed boy) construct a backpack for his vintage video game system and fashion a belt for some of his more violently-minded game cartridges before walking over to confront a large gang of older oppressors loitering outside of a hot dog stand. He collects himself, calmly confronts their leader- one who laughs when he’s suddenly face to face with a plastic gun controller- and, after a brief moment of eerie silence, pulls the trigger.
What follows is an extraordinarily violent bloodbath that could be seen as a cautionary tale for technological advancements (in a manner that’s not entirely dissimilar from Alex Garland’s excellent Ex Machina) or a concerned treatsie on evolution. It’s jarring imagery with a heavy concept, to be sure, but it’s pulled off in a manner that feels more grounded than bombastic, lending it an overlying sense of genuine horror. A child is forced into gradually losing the remainder of his innocence, one murder victim at a time, without ever being portrayed as anything other than coldly detached in the process. “All In”, an extremely strong piece of heavily atmospheric electro-pop, provides the perfect soundtrack for the incredibly disconcerting sequence. As people are gunned down in what feels less like a revenge fantasy and more like a pointed statement, The Fjords found a perfect vehicle to act as an introduction-at-large for their shadowy, foreboding soundscapes. The song and the clip complement each other to a startling perfection, right down to the closing shot that preserves a sliver of the protagonist’s humanity. Brilliantly edited, superbly directed, and gorgeously lensed, it’s another clip for the ages- and it’s the new standard-holder for how to make an entrance.
Watch “All In” below and order All In here.