The band are to be found playing the song in an empty Hopetoun Alpha. They’re not even playing on stage, rather they’re set up on the floor in the middle of the hall. The lighting is dramatic, with the background space almost invisible with the shadows.
The camera slowly glides around the band, and it also looks like the footage has been slightly slowed down to give a dreamy feeling. The video lets the song take over, with the band being almost a secondary consideration.
“Spinning a Line” was the final single from the band’s hugely popular “Pet” album. And it feels like the “Pet” era Fur Patrol are wrapping up, about to grow into the next stage of their career – the adventurous move to Melbourne.
Best bit: the close-ups of the bass, long vibrating strings and all.
Lyrically, “Andrew” is like the flipside of “Lydia”. Where the earlier song was a tortured cry to an ex-lover, “Andrew” is a cynical brush-off. And like the “Lydia” video, “Andrew” is also set in a nightclub (filmed at Calibre Bar in Karangahape Road), only this time the band has hit the dance floor.
The song starts off in a quiet mode, with the band slowly moving around a nightclub. All the other patrons are frozen in mid-groove, but everyone comes to life once the song gets bold and loud with the first chorus.
Julia saunters around the dancefloor, and it looks like there’s going to be a hoedown showdown between Fur Patrol and Andrew and the rest of the club. So far it’s all very cool, but things go up several levels when Fur Patrol break into some formation dancing, that pop staple.
I think the only other NZOA music video (so far) that’s dared to do formation dancing was Deep Obsession’s “You Got the Feeling”. Points to them for having a good, sincere go at it, but it felt more like a workout than dancing. But somehow Fur Patrol’s sarcastic, gothy dancing comes across much more slicker and accomplished. It might help that we don’t see much of them from the waist down.
The dancing woos the cool nightclub crowd, eventually turning the dancefloor from sneers into smiles. Such is the power of good choreography. More New Zealand music video should have dancing.
Best bit: Julia’s fake ponytail – long, sleek and plenty of power-swish.
Before Adele and “Someone Like You”, “Lydia” was the default white-girl-blues song for those evenings requiring white wine and bitter tears. It’s a great song (it hit number one in the charts) and has a perfect singalong chorus – “My babeeeeey! Don’t you want me anymore?”
Director Jonathan King sets the band performing in an intimate venue (filmed at Verona on K Road). It soon becomes clear they’re miming their instruments. It’s not just air guitar, but also air bass, air drums and air microphone. As sultry nightclub singer Julia Deans sings the song, the camera captures her dramatic eye rolls and sarcastic facial gestures. She’s singing across the room from a couple at a table – a crusty looking guy sitting with a blonde chick. Lydia.
When the chorus comes around, the sarcasm leaves Julia’s face. She gets right to the emotional core of the song, that feeling of awfulness.
As the video progresses we discover that Lydia is played by Julia Deans in a wig, complete with the same labret piercing. Julia walks over to the crusty guy and Lydia and climbs up on their table. But she seems to be as invisible to them as the band’s instruments are to us. But something happens. Julia turns to Lydia and cries, “My baby, don’t you love me anymore?” Lydia acknowledges her, her face dropping. And we realise – Julia was never singing to the crusty guy (good, because gross); she was singing to Lydia, a blonde version of herself.
Such a simple and such a devastatingly good video.
The video opens with the startling image of Julia Deans with glowing orange eyes, holding up a comedy voodoo doll. Just what is going on here?
Before any answers are given, the video flips into a parallel universe. Fur Patrol are performing in front of a large audience at Wellington Town Hall (or possibly Auckland Town Hall). It looks like it might be part of a festival rather than a headliner gig, but they’re still playing to a huge crowd who are loving it. [Commenters Lisa and Sam have figured it out. It was a Victoria University orientation gig at Wellington Town Hall in March 2000, where Shihad and HLAH-side project Baconfoot also played.]
The video is directed by Chris Graham, whose work we’ve previous seen with Upper Hutt Posse’s “Dread on a Mission” video and Te Kupu’s “Vision” vid. With “Now” he both captures Fur Patrol’s live energy and gets a bit arty with the strange world.
Yes, back to the strange world. There’s Julia lookin’ fierce, wearing a tracksuit and standing in a not-quite-natural world that seems inspired by Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box” video. But wait – it’s not just one Julia, it’s two, a green-screen clone to add vocal harmony. There’s also a grumpy-faced small girl with two dolls, a snake, and the other Fur Patrol members hanging out with dogs.
The band also gets to have fun with great balls of CGI, including one that looks like a Swiss ball with a CGI baby surrounded by an orange plasma glow, and two smaller balls with Julia’s eye and lips. It’s a bewildering world of crazy. Parts of the CGI feel like someone mucking around with all the cool new toys in the edit suite, but other stuff – like the two Julias – just feels normal.
This all makes the live footage seem a little dull in comparison, but there’s one moment from the town hall that stands out. Julia does a sideways kick, revealing that she’s wearing a skirt over trousers – long flared trousers with a tunic-like top hanging down. It’s like hitting the late ’90s/Wellington style bingo.
Best bit: the clever cut from Julia reaching towards the camera to a concergoer doing the same.
“Beautiful” is a sweet love song with a dark edge and delightful lyrics like “you are the best thing that’s happened to me / since I fell on my face on Tuesday”. But Fur Patrol being Fur Patrol, they’re not going to make a cute, quirky video. No, they’re going to get a little weird.
Lead singer Julia plays a truck who’s singing the song in ode to her driver. To this effect, she’s strapped to the front of the truck, wearing a sort of black body suit, with bright red hair and matching eye make-up. And oddly it works, in a Thomas the Tank Engine way. It’s Julia the truck!
Her other half is a tattooed truckie who finished up his cup of tea then gets inside his truck, whereon a look of bliss appears on her face. She likes it when he’s all up inside her.
Also in the truck are the rest of the band. They’re in the trailer, suspended from the ceiling, swinging from side to side as the truck travels along. And that’s cool, but it’s not as cool as Julia the truck. When the truck starts moving, it genuinely looks like it’s her on the truck, not a stunt double.
The “Beautiful” video has a splendid sense of humour but it makes a much more compelling companion to the song than a straighter, more typical music video would have achieved. I just hope that the truck driver take his truck out more often.
Best bit: the truck driver’s diner is played by the much missed Kenny’s on Courtenay Place.