The Strokes have been unusually omnipresent these days. With the release of their EP, Future Present Past, back in early June, the band has been rallying for a full-fledged comeback by easing us in to their inevitable next studio album. Considering there are a mere four tracks to choose from on the record (one of them a remix), it makes sense that the band would go with the strongest single from it, “Threat of Joy,” to create a music video–though during the intro to the video, there is a tongue-in-cheek “disclaimer”: “Due to circumstances we are not at liberty to discuss, we are unable to present the music video for ‘Oblivius.’ Instead, please enjoy a special presentation of The Strokes in…Threat of Joy.”
With that, the camera pans left to The Strokes engaging in their standard brand of lackadaisical music playing. Casablancas, looking a bit well-worn as he opens with, “Okay, I see how it is now/You don’t have time to play with me anymore/That’s how it goes,” establishes the general non-cohesion of the video’s narrative. As the representation of the “past” element in the Future Present Past name, “Threat of Joy,” one would have hoped, should allude to something slightly more nostalgic than shots of the band interspersed with men dressed in pig masks trying to withhold “the footage” from “Oblivius” that government officials are after.
Cuts to the requisite “hot female” holding the coveted film canister with said sought after footage as she passes it off to the band attempt to tie in together some sort of storyline that never really quite works. Neon signs with platitudes like “There’s No Escape” and “Protect Us From the Truth” also try to help the audience feel like maybe it might be getting something out of watching this other than a snapshot of how poorly people born in New York tend to age (Los Angeles-born Albert Hammond Jr. and Rio De Janeiro-born Fabrizio Moretti exempt). A loose political reference to “fat cats” (or, in this case, pigs) is too cursory to leave much of an imprint, with more non-essential scenes of a Sleep No More-esque ballroom dance and retro-inspired beach partying rounding out the video.
“I’m gonna take what comes my way/Take what they give me” is, perhaps, the most telling and succinct lyric of “Threat of Joy,” as this is pretty much what fans of The Strokes must do every time they release a new video (though sometimes, like in this case, the song is worthwhile).