Billed as the first album to be released exclusively on DVD, the Sun’s Blame it on the Youth is visually and musically underwhelming, save for a few bright gems unrelated to the band itself. Musically, the Sun’s new album falls somewhere in the orbit of Ween and other geek-rock bands who rely on an eclectic blend of musical styles. This is a difficult task to pull off without sounding completely derivative, which is exactly where the Sun fails. Sure, their songs are poppy with a hard rock edge. Sure, they swing out into other genres, brushing against hip-hop, dub and Latin sounds, but they never really make them their own.
Something I have always enjoyed about the music listening experience is that I am allowed to accompany it with my own images and memories, creating my own emotional soundtrack. I am sure one could see how I would be a bit hesitant at being forced to experience the Sun’s pre-made world in the form of mostly mediocre music videos. Musicians have been releasing albums and songs exclusive to movies or videos for years but one could always forego the movie or video and simply buy the album. The Sun might have been better off to give listeners this option, although I do understand the desire for an up-and-coming band to be cutting edge in any way possible.
Their video for the song “Romantic Death” may be the best thing on the DVD. It is also perhaps the least effective video I’ve ever seen because it completely overshadows the song, relegating it to the background. Directed by Alex Nam, the video begins with a warning of explicit content against a black background. We then see a montage of naked young men and women, framed from the shoulders up, adjusting cameras and laying on their backs. As the song takes off, so do the video’s subjects as they gently rock and bounce up and down. It quickly becomes apparent that these people are masturbating. As the song continues, the intensity from these individuals increases and it is hard to decide if it is sexy, embarrassing or funny. A brilliant bit of editing midway through the song makes the mouth movements and moans appear like singing along. The song and video end with the inevitable climax. A little research led me to beautifulagony.com, which is where the footage originates. Yes, it is real. Individuals submit video of themselves reaching orgasm and are paid for the effort. The editing done to create the Sun’s music video is simply breathtaking. But don’t bother buying the DVD since the video is widely available on the internet.
It’s easy to see that the Sun is reaching out to an alternative audience while hoping to carve out some mainstream appeal. The DVD’s 13 videos are populated with the tattooed and the scraggy in chunky black-rimmed glasses and lived-in hairstyles going through the motions as the band bops through songs like the ultra poppy “Lost at Home.”
About halfway through Blame it on the Youth I stopped caring about the band and the videos and started to mull over what this DVD-only album might mean for the future. Although all of the songs are embedded in the DVD in MP3 form for easy downloading and burning, it is still necessary to interact with the DVD in order to get instructions on how to do this. I imagine this might limit a whole population of radio listeners; and people who can’t afford the technology or are too old to understand it are also alienated from the listening experience. I doubt the Sun wanted to limit their audience and fan base with this kind of a release, and I doubt that very many bands will follow in their path.