An artistic look at Glass Animals ‘Gooey’

The video “Gooey” from Glass Animals is an amazing piece of visual and audio art. The band Glass Animals is a UK-based, four-member psychedelic indie band consisting of Dave Bayley, Edmund Irwin-Singer, Drew Macfarlane, and Joe Seaward. The video is directed by ‘The Apairy’, the creative duo of Lily Coates and Gavin Youngs based in Berlin Germany. The beautiful cinematography is by Phillip Kaminak.

This video has an overall fantastic production quality to it. I would have liked to have seen one more ethnically diverse person included in the cast to make it perfect in execution but it is still well cast nonetheless. The video is shot in a single location. Its rich dark patterned floors and the beautiful wooden engraved wall panels set a perfect backdrop stage to draw the eye to the visual story of the characters. I recommend watching the video first before you read the article if you haven’t seen it. 

Just what is the story? At first glance, we are introduced to a gold-plated chemist and his chemistry in action. The glass Friedrichs condenser, a separating funnel, and the use of the bowl and mortar to grind some elements into a useful state. Next, we see the boiling action of chemistry in action with a superimposed hint of what’s to come within it.

Just what is this video going to be about? We see the chemist or alchemist creation come into existence and begin to wonder where this love story is going to go as the scene fades to black. With the sultry xylophonic sounds of introduction and the androgynist high vocals of Bayley, Gooey sets the perfect atmosphere of love brewing, doesn’t it? 

As the next scene fades back into focus we are jolted out of our assumptions. We see a young girl standing over a man on the floor, the first assumption is she poisoned him. All this thought in a flash of the moment. As she stands over him, we see the blank interaction play out between the two. What evil has this man brought upon this innocent girl to deserve this death? Again, we are jolted out of our perceptions of what is happening as the man extends his tongue out for more of this mysterious liquid the girl offers.

Is this an erotic fetish playing out before us? Does the young woman desire the father figure of the man? Does the older man enjoy the domination of the younger woman? Our ears are telling us this is sultry and seductive, can our eyes deceive us from the true story of the video? The older adult man dressed in a wrestling singlet trundling down the stairs brings confusion into the mix. As the camera shot goes over the railing we are once again jolted by what we are seeing.

The old man wrestling with the young man changes the erotic fetish narrative into a homoerotic one as we watch the old pinning the young down. The stare and the fetish-like state of mouth drool driving home the point. What we expect to happen next doesn’t occur. The mysterious liquid in the guise of drool falls upon the cheek of the youth. As it enters his ear, we are flabbergasted with the bombardment of the ever-changing nature of the eroticism. Seeing the drop take a live of its own we are introduced to a new twist adding tension to the story.

Backing up this visual story are the beautiful hypnotic xylophone melodies and the smooth and sultry but perplexing lyrics sung in the song. What we have been watching is a key to an interpretation of those lyrics as we catch sight of the young man walking past the smoldering fire into the next scene. 

There is no tease nor confusion of what we are now witnessing. As we watch two people in a pure lust-of-the-moment interaction, we question what is the true meaning of the video and the song. We are visually and audibly engaged with the sexuality of what is happening so there is no longer a need to shock the viewer through another twist in a scene transition as we see the end of a sensual kiss and the mysterious liquid being passed on to the woman.  

During this next transition, we hear a change in chorus, a pause of most of the melodic layering with the echoing ‘gooey’ synth repeating out, and then the resumption of the melody in a lower octave. Additionally, we are given a visual reprieve as we see the dancer slowly float away on her love high. I want to express how important this moment is for the audience. This is the climactic moment in the song and the video that helps bring that awareness and realization. As the song lowers the audio stimulation, the visual stimulation is also damped down, allowing our minds to process what we are hearing and seeing. 

We are realizing the overall synchronicity of these mediums as we see her prance of the excitement and joy of new love. The lyrical poetry of the composition allows for a great many individual interpretations of the meaning behind them. The melodic composition sets the tone and further narrows possible interpretations of the lyrics. We finally come to the visuals, which refines interpretations to a more clear and complete understanding. In my backward process, I am using visuals to help define the artistic representation of the song.

As you watch the female prancer rhythmically nodding her head to your growing enlightenment, you come to understand that this is about. Acceptance of your sexual orientation, what sexually excites you, and who you desire and love regardless of outside opinion. If you read the lyrics alone, they are a dual perspective, of an outside entity giving caution of reckless yearning intertwined with a second perspective with the use of “I” at the start of the line. The visual conception uses that secondary perspective in those few lyrical lines in the song as the inspiration. The visuals are extremely effective to push back against that outside perspective of the lyrical warnings.

The mysterious liquid is being transferred to its next carrier. As you, the audience, are being dragged into a realization of the meaning and symbolism both visually and lyrically in the video, it brought to your attention the story is not over as we are given our last twist to the video.

As the scene transitions, the mysterious liquid is carried with great reverence upon a golden tray. That liquid is the symbolic umbrella of all the facets of love; infatuation, desire, lust, intimacy, and passion. As the camera swings to the nude Renaissance beauty of a woman splayed out on the stylized couch, we are struck by the powerful imagery presented here. The visual climax of the story is beautifully done. Not only does this reflect the past artworks from the renaissance paints of beautiful plump women, but it also takes direct inspiration from Lucian Freud’s Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, from 1995.

Lucian Freud’s ‘Benefits Supervisor Sleeping’ from 1995

As symbolic love is freely given to this beautiful goddess, it helps us realize the overall meaning behind the song and the video. Love in all its various forms knows no bounds, regardless of age, orientation, race, and appearance. As the gold alchemist reverently collects the ever-growing collection of passion and desire, we come to realize that the gold-covered alchemist is a symbolic representation of an angel of love. Whether it Gabriel or Cupid, it collects these desires given by our Goddess and wrings them upon the heat of passion to continue its steamy propagation to all who are open to receive it.

As the song starts to quietly enters its final dreamy xylophonic melody, the camera pulls back and we see the cast arrayed in the steamy sauna-like setting. This visually shows us again that love knows no bounds and no limits. It encompasses us all equally and there should be no shame of our looks, orientation, and race when it comes to it. 

The song Gooey has an overall beautiful melodic quality to it. Dave Bayley sang in a way to assist and accompany the music. His performance is smart enough that he doesn’t overpower the music nor is it sung too softly to be muted by it. MacFarlane and Irwin-Singer do a wonderful job on backup vocals, together they are a great harmonic unit. Additionally, their keyboard synth filters are like warm chocolate chip cookies, soft enough when combined with a fermata long enough to help give it the gooey sound of its title. Watching live performances, Seaward does a solid job on his rhythm pacing and volume control of his percussion instruments. 

The production quality of this video is well done. The minimum use of superimpositions and flashy digital techniques helps give the story a human quality. The art direction was well thought out and executed not only in the location and lighting chosen but the props and materials used to build a hidden meaning behind the video. The camera angles where very effective in tell the story. The whole crew who worked on the video is a quality job. ‘The Apairy’ used cuts long enough to show us the story but short enough to question what we were seeing.  

The directing in this video was exceptional. The pacing of the cuts matched with the tempo of the music helps keep the suspense up with the additions of the plot twists. This is one of the crowning achievements of this video. The use of sexual undertones with a twist at the end of the scene captures the viewer’s attention. It draws you into the story. Transitions are used symbolically and are well-timed. The use of the railing to divide between two types of sexual orientation, the burning fire of desire, the doorway of discovery, the tray of enlightenment, and the steam of passion to name some.

As mentioned before, the cast is the only shortcoming of the whole experience. I feel one of the male roles could have been cast from a more visually unique ethnicity. The gender roles of the story are well placed. The roles of those parts are also well casted. The cast is attractive enough but not overly beautiful to take away from the story except in the key role. Our Renaissance woman, Charlotte Berhorst, is absolutely perfect in her goddess role. She is fearless, bold, and beautiful in her role and I applaud her for it.

To love is to be human.  The song, production, and casting exemplify this into a perfect trifecta of quality art.

Copyright Cary Eckland of Life-ReStarted.com

Song ‘Gooey’ from Glass Animals album Zaba, 2014

Video production Pulse Films

Director ‘The Apairy’; Lily Coates and Gavin Youngs

Cinematographer Phillip Kaminak along with additional information for the cast.

‘Benefits Supervisor Sleeping’, Lucian Freud, 1995. Courtesy of Acquavella Galleries

My apologies to any person not properly recognized for their work.

Published by LifeReStarted

I am a disabled man in my late forties with mental illness. Major depression, anxiety panic disorder, agoraphobia. I have kept only one friend in all that time, my wife. I met my best friend in 1992 and married her in 1995. Ms. B is my beating heart, the reason I keep living. After 20 years, I am waking up to life. Now that I am awake, I want to create.

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