Rob Ulitski - 29th July 2020

Feeling more like an art installation or visual poem than a music video, Warren Fu directs an animated epic for The Strokes’ Ode to the Mets.

For the six and a half minute journey, we are continuously pulled back through eight different chapters. From the prehistoric era, to an abandoned school gym, to an underwater New York City, the viewer seamlessly drifts through these worlds like a ghostly spectator.

To match the haunting atmosphere in the track, Fu conceived an animated video completely devoid of any living thing. The visuals traverse many celebratory moments, yet there is a sense of bittersweet nostalgia that comes with those scenes being empty, like a ghost town where the people have suddenly vanished. Perpetually in motion, the video feels like the purported ‘life review’ phenomenon one experiences before death, where your most poignant memories rush before you in a flood of memory and regret. This hazy sense of anachronism and not being able to place the time or setting adds to this otherworldly vibe, underscored by a strangely haunting emotional connection.

Fu’s initial concept for the video was for it to be shot live-action with a combination of locations and miniature sets. However, Fu says, “when Covid stay-at-home measures were put in place in April, we had to go the animation route. This actually ended up being a blessing, because it allowed us to get more surreal and otherworldly with the visuals.”

Although Fu never met any of the animators, or even his producer Joel Kretschman in person, he says that having a shared goal to work towards during quarantine was therapeutic in some ways.

Sara Nix, Executive Producer of Music Videos at Partizan, remarks, “It was amazing to see how efficiently Warren was able to streamline the process between so many people. He and Joel didn’t miss a beat adapting to this new manner of working. All meetings, notes and creative brainstorms were done over Zoom, with Fu staying in constant communication about style and transitions as the concepts were developing.”

Arresting in its style and content, the video contains subtle hints to the title of the track. As lead singer Casablancas has stated, he came up with the melody while waiting on the train platform after baseball team New York Mets lost the 2016 Wild Card Game to the San Francisco Giants. Fu debated how Mets-inspired to make the video, as the lyrics are less about baseball and more universal in theme.

By adding subtle hints throughout the video, including the team’s colors of orange and blue and a banner that reads Class of ‘69 (the year The Mets won the World Series over the Baltimore Orioles), the Easter eggs are a nod to the overarching themes of hope, promise and possibilities. Yet when you see them in the context of the past without people present, it takes on a nostalgic, bittersweet feeling.

Fu explains, “The band and I are in line as far as our taste and references go. After seeing the early conceptual animatic for the video, [guitarist] Albert Hammond Jr. texted me, ‘That Ode To The Mets thing is so f*cking cool! Wow.’ They let me essentially run with the video from that point on.”

Beautifully engaging and wondrous, Fu knocks the concept out the park - pun intended - and captures the bittersweet sense of saudade that the music and lyrics inspire.

Credits

DirectorWarren Fu
ProducerJoel Kretschman
Production CompanyPartizan
Executive ProducerSara Nix
Other creditsChapter 1 - Ancient Era Artist: Ratha Nou & Aaron Baker Chapter 2 - Street Artist: Wesley Kandel Produced By Brian Covalt At Moving Colour Chapter 3 - School Artist: Aaron Baker Chapter 4 - Toys Directed By Sam Mason Chapter 5 - Circuitry Artist: Anthony Scheppard Chapter 6 - Speakeasy Artist: Wesley Kandel Produced By Brian Covalt At Moving Colour Chapter 7 - Underwater Artist: Aaron Baker Chapter 8 - Moon Artist: James Morr At Arcade Graphics By James Morr Additional Story Development & Research: Elissa Nechamkin

Rob Ulitski - 29th July 2020

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