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Music

The Curls Skewer 'Lowest Forms of Entertainment' in Outlandish Video (premiere)

Chicago sextet the Curl's "Hit Em Where It Hurts" is the latest showcase of the group's addictive quirkiness.

Bands don't come more deliciously — yet naturally — weird than the Curls. Nigh-impossible to succinctly describe or pigeonhole into any indie rock subgenre, the Chicago sextet has that tongue-in-cheek, madcap derangement that makes one think of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band reincarnated for the 2010s with inverted pop sensibilities in place of abrasive elements.

Bizarre as their pastiche of sounds is, it's self-conscious without being forced or a put-on. Their video for latest single "Hit Em Where It Hurts" serves as a nugget of their uncanny valley-like approach to indie pop (maybe avant-pop is a suitable term). Carried by a minimalistic bass line and synth notes that create a hypnotic, psychedelic swirl, Anna Holmquist intones a deadpan vocal melody, oft-reciting the title like a instructional mantra. The video's fragmented '80s aesthetic — heavy on dayglo colors, tracksuits, cat-headed band members, and send-ups of late night talk shows and 2:00 am infomercials — is an apt visual approximation of the smirking revelry at the core of the song.

The video is the latest of several the Curls' have unveiled since the release of their 2017 debut album SUPER UNIT. It was directed and edited by Matthew Shelton, who also helmed the video for the band's "Birdland".

"We filmed in a school auditorium in Chicago, which was being used for some kind of church service the day we came in to plan out the shoot," said Mick Fansler, the Curls' resident maestro. "We had to pretend we were there for the service to get a good look at the space. I think watching part of that service helped inspire some of the things we ended up shooting. The basic concept is to sort of invite viewers into a universe populated by the lowest, most shit forms of entertainment (late night talk shows, soap operas, reality shows, etc.) and display them in their true form. Maybe it's like turning on cable TV or scrolling through the Internet with a pair of glasses that helps you see and feel what's actually being communicated. Or you could not think much into it at all and just have a fun, disorienting sensory experience."

On the horizon, the Curls are releasing their sophomore full-length on Chicago label Diversion Records in the spring. They're also set for their first South By Southwest gig and will be playing some showcases in the Austin area in March.

"Otherwise," Fansler said, "the plan for this year is the same as it ever was — to keep creating and releasing a steady stream of quality content until people give us the attention, money, and respect that we so clearly deserve."

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