For a song entitled "Hurt Me Now," there is a fair amount of fun and frivolity to be seen in the newly released video from one of Canada's most beloved bands. Austra's sophomore album, Olympia, has had two prior singles, "Home" and "Painful Like," that came out in 2013. Mercifully, they have not chosen to let the record fall off the map in 2014. Directed by M. Blash (who previously wrote the feature The Wait starring Jena Malone and Chloë Sevigny), their latest video is relatively tame in comparison to some of Austra's more cerebral visual offerings (see: "Lose It"), though not without its occasional unnerving imagery--mainly in the form of a decapitated head.
Throughout the video, there is a mysterious green girl, which one could almost interpret in Kate Zambreno terms, who writhes about along with a few other errant dancers in a huge open space. Everyone who inhabits the video seems to be carefree, without worry of ever being hurt. There are also moments, however, when things take a serious turn, like when we see lead vocalist Katie Stelmanis at the center of a massive crowd; each person bears a stoic expression that infers a total disconnection from reality and life in general.
The lyrics to the song subtly infer the possibility of decapitation, with Stelmanis singing, "In a burning building/I was boiling over/With a head of ashes." One doesn't get a head of ashes without first detaching the body, now do they? But that's just one theory about why Austra chose to conclude "Hurt Me Now" with such a memorable, almost haunting scene. There are, in fact, quite a few mentions of essential body parts and organs in the song. Stelmanis expresses, "In the velvet calm/Willing, undone/I placed my heart on the table/Oh, don't hurt me now." This second reference to detaching a part of one's body from oneself is extremely evocative and does, indeed, invoke feelings of being hurt.
Another memorable scene from the video occurs when a group of women parade around the dance floor carrying signs that say "S.O.S."--the infamous acronym for "save our souls." In this way, Austra elucidates the agony of experiencing pain in a light-hearted manner that persists for the majority of the video. The .gif-like style of the video also adds to a disjointed, practically schizophrenic emotional state, often occurring after one has endured a life-altering trauma.
While "Hurt Me Now" might not be as visually innovative as some of Austra's past videos (though it at least trumps "Home" in this regard), it will certainly leave an indelible imprint upon your mind's eye.