Austra’s Kate Stelmanis told SPIN recently that the Toronto electronic pop group wanted to break away from much of what characterized their Polaris Prize-shortlisted 2011 debut, Feel It Break on new sophomore album, Olympia. “Painful Like,” from Olympia, evidences Austra’s Kate Bush inspiration, but its percolating luminescence is also the product of a move away from programming and sampling. An ominious streak remains, and the subject matter is weighty: The band said the song was inspired by “the disillusionment of growing up gay in a small town and finding solace in the arms of a lover.”
The video brilliantly defies the expectations that might be set by this powerful theme, instead following glowing ooze, neon-lit figures, and a small TV screen en route to a Krang-like creature. The clip is directed by Ontario visual arts collective Exploding Motor Company, and as Stelmanis explains in a statement, “The main influence was ’90s sci-fi movies like [Teenage Mutant] Ninja Turtles, Super Mario Bros., and Garbage Pail Kids where all the visual effects are done by hand and look really gross.” Be entertained by the plush production and playful video, and then let this “song about living life in the sidelines” sneak up on you.