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Music Review: The Toxic Avenger – ‘Romance & Cigarettes’ Video (Single)

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Someone grinds a skateboard down an escalator rail. Forty seconds later, a gaggle of twenty-somethings—half of them in shopping carts—charge at each other wielding swimming pool noodles. A minute from the end of the video, a tatted-up dude strikes a bag of chips with a baseball bat, spilling golden treasure in a slow-motion explosion.

The Toxic Avenger’s new music video for his single “Romance & Cigarettes (feat. Jose Reis Fontao)” was released on July 3.  Although SPIN compared it to “Phoenix’s inescapable pop sensibilities,” the new single sounds too dark, sinister, and slow to be compared to the catchy springiness of Phoenix. “Romance & Cigarettes” is closer in comparison to Daft Punk’s soundtrack to Tron: Legacy, with its slow, dramatic transitions from chord to chord. The chord progressions are sometimes a bit cheesy, but the predictability of the bass, crawling upward by half-step, provides a new element to the French electro house song.

toxicavengerThe visuals, of course, mimic the veiled frenzy of the song. At the start, the synthesized strings gradually build to collapse into a howling, popping chorus; at the same time, the delinquents of the music video gear up, in slow-motion, as they enter a supermarket, only to speed down the aisles in rollerblades, skateboards, scooters, and shopping carts—and then once again find themselves caught within the camera’s slow-motion. The visual effect mimics the supporting song, whose sound gets fuller and more exciting while the tempo remains stagnant, just as the kids in the video perform motion-intensive actions in slow-motion.

Out of this paradoxical trick comes a sense of irony, which the music video also supports, with the dark-haired, tattooed delinquents whacking each other with pastel-colored swimming pool noodles and rushing down a Slip ‘n’ Slide on top of colorful, inflatable balloons. The video, directed by Stephané Benini, and the song, produced by (real name) Simon Delacroix, play off each other, just as a music video should.

The Toxic Avenger’s full-length sophomore album, which bears the same name of its single, is to be released October 8. His first live show in Paris will be October 18.

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About Brigid Choi

Brigid Choi is an English Major, Music Minor at Emory University. She has been published in Emory's fiction literary magazine, The Emory Pulse, as well as Emory's music magazine, Frequency. Outside of publication, she leads EmRock, Emory's only rock music organization. Outside of Emory, she interns at Beatlefan.