Music video review: First Aid Kit’s “Rebel Heart” upholds a high standard

Wednesday, September 12, 2018 - 5:04pm

First Aid Kit's "Rebel Heart"

First Aid Kit's "Rebel Heart" Buy this photo
Columbia Records

It’s no coincidence that the full moon is red in First Aid Kit’s new music video for “Rebel Heart.” Red is the color of the passion that drives rebellion, the color of individuality, of love that rages and dreadfully quells, of blood. It’s the color of the heart itself.

“Rebel Heart” — a song from Ruins, a stellar avalanche of an album released back in Jan. — is a tale of dread and insecurity, in which the magnetic folk duo croon lines like, “Why do I keep trying / To be someone I’ll never be / I keep seeing her in everyone / Everyone but me.” The music video tells the story of a séance. Sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg are dressed in red, with the latter sporting a necklace with a prominent heart-shaped pendant, and surrounded by several silent, blank-faced women robed in white (think “The Beguiled”).

The video is blurred with the warm fuzz of an old movie, and full of nods to the horror and suspense genres: an eclipse, a TV screen flickering Poltergeist-style with static, dramatic shadows framing each sister’s eyes as she speaks into a lipstick-red telephone, the women in white lurching in unison on the wooden floor in twitchy motions that evoke “The Exorcist.” A group of girls in a circle, holding hands while another girl rises off the table and floats, her red heart pulsing and glowing beneath her white dress. A creepy, sleepover-esque hair-braiding circle — which, if it isn’t already out of some horror movie, certainly should be.

Beyond its aesthetics, though, the video bears many of the hallmarks that make First Aid Kit’s videos so great: The nostalgic drama steeped in horror recalls the haunting high school prom from “Fireworks,” and the maneuvering between the two sisters echoes the narrative duality of “It’s a Shame.” The video reminds us of one of the alluring aspects of the band’s music — that when they sing of heartbreak and dread, they sing of it together. When they enter a creepy castle under a full, blood-red moon, where the hallways are dark and the safety of one’s heart is called into question, they do it together.

And later, when they leave the castle and speed away down a dirt road lit only by the moon and their headlights, toward an obscure and frightening red future, they do that together, too.