PS Picks: Glam-Rock Wastrel Alex Cameron's 'Studmuffin96' Music Video - Pacific Standard

PS Picks: Glam-Rock Wastrel Alex Cameron's 'Studmuffin96' Music Video

PS Picks is a selection of the best things that the magazine's staff and contributors are reading, watching, or otherwise paying attention to in the worlds of art, politics, and culture.
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Actress Jemima Kirke at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

Actress Jemima Kirke at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

This PS Pick originally appeared in The Lede, the weekly Pacific Standard email newsletter for premium members. The Lede gives premium members greater access to Pacific Standard stories, staff, and contributors in their inbox every week. While helping to support journalism in the public interest, members also receive a print magazine subscription, early access to feature stories, and access to an ad-free version of PSmag.com.

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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.

This PS Pick originally appeared in The Lede, the weekly Pacific Standard email newsletter for premium members. The Lede gives premium members greater access to Pacific Standard stories, staff, and contributors in their inbox every week. While helping to support journalism in the public interest, members also receive a print magazine subscription, early access to feature stories, and access to an ad-free version of PSmag.com.

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