The National have released another video from their most recent album, “Sleep Well Beast.” The song is “Dark Side of The Gym,” a ballad-like song that hearkens back to the magic changes of classic pop music. On some level, it feels like a sweet song that chronicles the beginnings of a new love, like a soda fountain dream spent sitting in the back of a convertible on a summer night in 1955.
It’s no surprise that the video follows a similar vein. We find two dancers alone in a gym filled with all sizes of colorful balloons, moving in a graceful exchange and illuminated by warm lights. They seem to be in love, filled with the sort of wide-eyed innocence and longing that the song evokes:
“The first time I saw you, you were walking out
I wanted to ask if you could stay
But you were on something with your friends around
There was nothing I could say
But I’m gonna keep you in love with me for a while
I’m gonna keep you in love with me
The next time I saw you, you were breaking down
A million years had gone away
You looked right at me, and I just turned around
There was still nothing I could say”
Choreographed by Justin Peck, the video’s dance is mesmerizing and evocative. The New York City Ballet dancer has been notable in recent years for bridging the gap between ballet and popular music. Recently he put together a ballet called “Everywhere We Go” with an original score by Sufjan Stevens, receiving rave reviews in the process.
The video takes a twist by the song’s end, though. What was simply a cute video of two dancers moving around a gym of colorful balloons takes on an air of mystery as the song breaks down in glitched-out strings and electronics. The scene shifts and glitches between images of them walking out of the gym together and him walking out alone or her flashing in front of the camera, staring straight ahead into it, piercing the lens with her eyes. What image is the true one, we never figure out.