M/V L/P: Bloodbuzz Ohio (The National, 2010) May 29, 2010Posted by Richard Bolisay in Music, Music Videos.
Before The National made it big, it’s a common thought that Matt Berninger is the one who’s pulling the band down. It’s clearly the effect of his voice—a kind of singing that mocks the idea of singing which is not singing out of tune but almost like reading, murmuring, or gibbering, a style which their critics think anyone with a voice can do—from the way he yells in the first and second albums to his refined and sorrowful caresses in the third, fourth, and fifth. His voice always reminds me of the odd and mystifying spell of Tom Waits’ and Victoria Legrand’s voice, but surely his has the serenity of sadness closest to surrender, like he is singing to my ear and courting me at the same time. The charming old man surely had me at every breath.
Which leads me to this video for “Bloodbuzz Ohio”, something I believe is done with the same fascination for the man. Matt fills every frame of it: walking in the woods, sitting at the park, feeding the birds, lying on the grass, taking a sip of alcohol, even dancing. For someone with class Matt is able to blend himself perfectly in the contours of black and white. It’s more like a visual exercise—there is no attempt to make it self-important or proud, considering it’s a bit weird to see a Mac on Matt’s side as he sings—and the enjoyment is truly reserved for fans of the band, especially the part when Matt stands onstage and poses, dancing and doing some silly hand movements, having fun to our delight and surprise. It’s a welcoming gesture, an intimacy not coming from his voice but from his body, from his face and the outline of his nose, from the trees of his beard, from his physical come-hitherness.
At the center of the video is the lovely tune: The floors are falling out / from everybody I know / I’m on a bloodbuzz, yes I am / I’m on a blood buzz which can only strike a chord of wistfulness in you whether you live in Ohio or not, or if you have a car to lay your head on. They say Matt Berninger could sing “Happy Birthday” and still make it sound like a sad song of celebration, and maybe that’s why we love him, and that’s why we love the band that stood up for him till graceland.