Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Coco Morier - "Ambulance" (Video Review)

It has been an active year for coco morier, the new indie-pop solo act by former Electrocute frontwoman/Britney Spears tunesmith Nicole Morier. After releasing her five-track, self-titled debut EP in December (and landing at #3 on this blog's groundbreaking Top Pop EPs of 2011 list), Morier began playing well-received regular shows in Los Angeles before joining Swedish indie royalty like Miike Snow, The Teddybears, and Lykke Li in a new collective and independent label, INGRID, in March. Her track "Afterlife" appeared on the label's inaugural compilation record, released on Record Store Day, and the superb single "Explosions" was featured as KCRW's "Today's Top Tune," among other commendations. Last week, Morier released a new music video for "Ambulance," one of several standout tracks from her debut, and announced her upcoming sophomore EP release, Strangers May Kiss, out June 19 on her new label, on which the track will also appear. Good news all around.

The video, directed by Evan Lane, is a relatively straight-forward yet thoughtfully artistic representation of the post-relationship depths of stubborn heartbreak the song depicts. The clip is almost entirely pro-grade, with moments of DIY amateurism that manage to make the whole affair more personal and heartfelt than your average glossy big-budget production - a standard for which independent musicians making music videos would do well to strive henceforth. See, for instance, the care taken to capture the beauty of a shower of sparks falling from a cigarette being stubbed out on a wall; also how Morier's silhouette still visibly shapes the lyrics of the song, a simple effect that was likely painstaking to create. Even the harried, blurry outstretched hands reaching for the medicine cabinet or refrigerator door convey not just the action but the unbalanced desperation of depression and sorrow that's long overstayed its welcome.

Morier appears along with actor Kayla Varley as jilted lovers of varying severity, sometimes frantically creating a homemade root beer float and other times showering despondently in a flaming bathtub. There's a bit in the middle in what looks like a Skid Row diner that doesn't make a ton of sense except that it sort of fits the theme of being forgotten and brushed aside, but the old black man eating noodles is both so absurdly postmodern and possessed with such je ne sai quoi that it's hard to gripe at a few seemingly off-the-wall shots. Also, to Morier and Lane's credit, there are no ambulances, EKGs or similar medical equipment present, displaying a grasp of the purpose and proper use of metaphor that seems to elude some more prominent artists currently active.

There's something reassuring about the effortless veteran quality of Morier's early solo material, the work of a new act who nevertheless has been a musician of considerable talent and experience for going on a decade. The quirkiness that makes her songs stand out on each of Britney Spears' last three albums (as well as sets by Tom Jones, Selena Gomez and the Scene, and others) mixes exquisitely with the polished pop shellack she's picked up from her experiences as a mainstream pop songwriter to create engaging tunes with trustworthy indie personality that nevertheless gleam as products designed to entertain as many folks as much as possible. "Ambulance," written with chronically "up-and-coming" pop starlet Sky Ferreira and Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg of Miike Snow, is a real earworm - though I listened to it barely half as often as my initial favorite tracks on the EP during the first few months I'd owned the set, I found it seeping into my consciousness months later and refusing to vacate. That Morier plans to grace her growing, rabid fan base with a second EP is marvelous news, and though Strangers May Kiss drops in less than a month, it seems, in the best way, like such a long wait.

Free download of "Explosions," from the coco morier ep (2011).

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