The song: Built on Becky Black’s fuzzy, barbed-wire guitar riff and Maya Miller’s primal, stomping percussion, “Sirens,” the first song on Vancouver-based garage duo the Pack a.d.’s September-released fourth album, Unpersons, steamrolls over listeners. It is gleefully unsubtle and unpretty — just the sound of two snarling, fearless women bashing out incendiary noise. But underneath its black-leather exterior beats the heart of a bluesy pop tune.
The video: A ferocious garage punk nugget like “Sirens” is made for only two things: fighting or fucking, and this video is clearly inspired by the former. So in this clip, a mild-mannered, suit-wearing man, who we can only assume is on the way to his boring office job, is possessed by the song’s violent, visceral energy. Powerless to ignore its urges, he flails around on the street, singing along against his will, until “Siren”’s bombastic chorus forces him to punch strangers on the street, smash guitars and even clock his chatty-Cathy girlfriend in the head with a glass. (We were concerned about the latter particularly brutal behavior, until the stunned girlfriend got in a particularly nice plate-to-the-face shot herself.) Unable to stop lashing out, our protagonist has no choice but to disrobe and submerge himself in what has to be the freezing ocean (it is the Pacific Northwest, after all), proving that not only can water melt wicked witches and multiply Mogwai, but is also the cure for rock-induced rage.
The director: The song may be purposefully raw, but its high-concept video is as professional and polished as they come. Directors Lloyd Lee Choi and Simon Yang have crafted a mini-movie that brings the song’s brutality to the fore, but plays the over-the-top violence with a wink. It wasn’t an easy shoot, though, between the weather and the health of its star. “We picked a bone-chilling[ly] cold week during a Vancouver fall, made sure our actor friend, Josh Hallem, was sick, with his lungs filled with phlegm and sinuses burning—true pain always translates well on screen—and decided to make him spasm around in public,” they said.
The list of garage-punk duos is so long — the Black Keys, the White Stripes, the Kills, just to name a few — that such a lineup is now almost a cliché. But the Pack a.d. play with so much sexy-yet-seething energy and snarling, gutsy confidence that they manage to distinguish themselves, even among such accomplished company/competition.
The Pack a.d.’s Unpersons is out now via Mint Records.