Nothing But Thieves is a band I came across on one of my quests to unearth new and good music last year. Their new song at that time, Graveyard Whistling, captivated me with its eerie atmosphere carried on an easy, relaxed beat — an odd juxtaposition, indeed. So far, the rest of the songs the band has since released, including Ban All The Music, have yet to stir the strong emotions I had when listening to Graveyard Whistling.
In the Ban All the Music video, the band has their gear set up in front of a forest backdrop with green curtains framing the side. Why a forest and why curtains? We’ll find out by the end of the video. A few moments into the video, I was taken aback by a sudden dark green wash flashing across the screen and thought it was probably a fleeting glitch. But fast-forward a minute and the mundane visual of a band spazzing to its own music changes complexion completely.
Someone in a black morphsuit cuts the power and plunges the video into darkness. The camera changes to “night vision” mode resulting in the green hue we had earlier dismissed. More of these ominous suited figures wreak havoc with the band and its equipment while the band valiantly plays on despite the intrusion. When the band finally has had enough, they lay the smackdown on the troublesome morphsuits and all the while, their music never misses a beat.
Interpreting the imagery, the forest backdrop could perhaps be representative of the imaginative mind while the curtains keep our attention focused on a thought or idea being played out on a stage. But sometimes, the lights go out and we have to wrestle a number of distractors that start a riot in our mind, attempting to keep us from… ooh, look! Someone’s kicked the floor tom over!
I feel the action sequences were too aggressive for this song. From the music and the lyrics, an escalation from the revelation that something is wrong, to the getting ready for battle and to the real confrontation is evident, but the video doesn’t seem to follow this progression. The action quickly becomes excessive, peaking before the music reaches its climax, making it feel like the song was playing second-fiddle to the action, rather than both working in harmony with one another.
A particular instance showcasing this disparity is when the band begins to stand their ground and almost immediately launches a counter-offensive against their assailants. But this point in the music is an instrumental bridge which feels more appropriate to a build-up of emotion towards a breaking point, and only then to strike back with a full on assault. It left me a bit disappointed at the mismatch as it seems that the band included more action for the sake of satisfying the action-junkie teen crowd. If the visuals had been true to the music, there would have been minimal screen time for all this mock fighting.
Ignoring the video, the lyrics I feel is about our quest for self-identity, our need find out what defines you uniquely as you. If you have a particular value to hold on to, keep holding on. Don’t be swayed. It’ll be a journey and we might not realise the degree of importance it is to us, but when we do, let the emotion accumulate, let the urge to protect it grow, passionately go against common wisdom if you need to. In other words, nothing we haven’t heard before. The lyrics were just mediocre, no particularly interesting word play nor was there a deeper meaning that enlightened me to an epiphany. The melody may have been somewhat addictive, but the biggest let-down of Ban All The Music will have to be the music video itself (should we ban all the disappointing music videos, then?).
Still, I recommend this song to be included in at least one of your playlists (maybe the one you use for motivation). Because just like in the video, there may be a time in your life that there are these morphsuits trying to break your pace and take your focus while you feel helpless, swatting at them ineffectually. So when this song plays, remember to “Switch off all the noise you’ve been sold”. Know what you want and Ban All The Music that is trying to persuade you otherwise.
Ban All The Music was released as a single and first posted on YouTube on 13th January 2015.