Matt Nathanson - Mission Bells (Music Video Review)
This week we’re going all black and white for the long postponed music video review of Matt Nathanson’s Mission Bells, released back in May 2013. The song was released as a single and later on became part of Nathanson’s July-album Last of the Great Pretenders.
Nathanson himself stated that the music video is Hitchcock-inspired but since I don’t know any Hitchcock movies (yeah, I know, I miss out on great stuff very often) I won’t comment on that at all.
Therefore I’m going to start off with the song itself. Like most songs we’ve reviewed, this one is also about love, or rather about the end of a relationship. A guy lets his girlfriend go since even though he loves her, he also knows that he hasn’t treated her right. Overall, Mission Bells is another of those awesome songs by Matt Nathanson that will get stuck in your head for weeks (trust me, I’ve been through it all again and again). The lyrics convey many metaphors and repetitive patterns which contribute to the song’s catchiness.
As you probably already guessed, the music video is in black and white. What I especially like about the music video is the connection of black and white in the video with the mentioning of black and white in the line of the lyrics “what kind of man misunderstands a woman like you, sees her in black and white.” Mission Bells was shot in San Francisco and the contributors to the storyline part of the music video are a, presumably, blonde woman who is the main character and a mysterious man, wearing suit and hat, whose face is never shown.
Matt Nathanson is also part of the music video but he isn’t part of the storyline; he performs the song in a separate dark room.
Like the black and white setting already suggests, the music video sends the viewer back in time to the mid-twentieth century, which is mainly presented through the clothing of the protagonist.
Now that we know what the characters look like, here’s what the storyline is about: The woman sees the mysterious man out in the streets, upon which she hurries away to her flat where she quickly packs a suitcase which includes a special ingredient, an expensive-looking necklace.
Then she leaves the city with her car but when she stops to make a phone call, she sees the mysterious man again standing on the cliffs, upon which she hastily leaves again. Her way leads her to a sort of motel where she locks herself in but continues to nervously check the outside.
The scenes are continuously interrupted by scenes of Matt Nathanson performing the song but also by the parallel story of the woman being murdered with a knife, which might foreshadows how the main storyline ends.
The video also features some special effects, like the repetition of scenes in the same frame in which they are happening at the moment. And since it’s so hard to explain what is actually going on, you better look at these self-explanatory gifs.
Furthermore, the video also features a main motive which is the triangle. Right in the beginning of the music video, several scenes that present San Francisco are shown and the blending between those scenes takes place in triangles. Moreover, there are buildings in triangle-shape, a staircase, the necklace and even the spotlight in Nathanson’s empty setting lights the middle of the room in triangle-shape.
The connection between song and setting does not only exist in the line that I already quoted above but is made on several occasions. The connection to the title is made even before the song starts because the viewer can hear bells ringing. The lyrics and the storyline are linked several more times but since this review has already become fairly long I’ll spare you the remaining examples.
Personally, I absolutely love the approach of this music video. Really good black and white videos don’t seem to be released too often, and this one is definitely a magnificent specimen. Furthermore, Mission Bells doesn’t only come along with an awesome video, instead it also features awesome lyrics which once more showcase Matt Nathanson’s brilliant songwriter-skills. Therefore, I would call this a solid comeback and I can only recommend it to anyone who hasn’t watched the music video yet, watch it now!