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Revisiting a Doomed Studmuffin: Last week, Australian musician and glam-rock wastrel Alex Cameron released the fifth video from his 2017 album, Forced Witness. His videos tend to capture badlands. That means both the actual desert, and the emotional voids of the leering male characters anchoring his songs, which mostly sound like slick, synth-heavy set pieces. His latest video, for "Studmuffin96," is the second directed by and starring Jemima Kirke, best known for playing Jessa on HBO's Girls. In Kirke's own words, "Studmuffin96" tells the story of a young woman ("almost 17," per the lyrics) trying for romance with an older man she once knew, and doomed to find that "their only common ground is a laundromat and a hotel room." The ensuing visuals present a lollipop and an oozing wound, a blond bouffant and a black velvet suit. They are unsettling, nostalgic for the 1970s, and, eventually, pornographic. But above all, they're an excuse to return to the song, easily the standout of Forced Witness.
Cameron's "Studmuffin" overcomes his sense of irony long enough to deploy expert nods to stadium rock, plus an irresistible hook and genuine, if perverse, yearning. I listened to the track over and over when the album first dropped, and after seeing the visual I'm putting it back in rotation. Kirke described the video as "a coming-of-age story about the bleakness of fantasy realized." The story is, yes, bleak. But boy, does it still sound good.