On first view it can be confusing, which, if you think about it, places Lightning Dust’s “Run” squarely in the meta category.
Shot in Strathcona, the single from the long-running duo’s upcoming Nostalgia Killer has a lot to say about not only Vancouver, but the challenges that come from living in a place where creatives have started to flee for more affordable pastures. Making art is never easy, and that goes double when you find yourself in one of the world’s most increasingly expensive cities.
Taken at face value, “Run” is about connecting, and loving life, in Strathcona, one of the last neighbourhoods in Vancouver to become fully gentrified. In the spotlight, rats—riding skateboards, scouring the alleyways, and having the occasional moment under big-city overpasses.
You want frequently misunderstood? That would be artists, especially those who’ve chosen to pursue art over commerce. And rats—which make the best of us scream when we find them running around in the back yard, in our homes, or landing in soup pots at Crab Park Chowdery.
To those who know them, rats are smart, social, and relentlessly sociable. To those who don’t, well, blame the Black Death plague for the endlessly bad PR. (The unfair thing being that humans were actually thought to be responsible for millions dying in the 1300s, not rats. The last time we checked, rats weren’t dumping their chamber pots out into the streets).
Back to “Run”, which finds Lightning Dust’s Amber Webber and Joshua Wells continuing to move away from the moody atmospherics of their early releases in favour of road-trip-ready art-pop. You want powerful? Pay attention to what happens at 2:32, when things shift from meditative to almost-orchestral. All hail the Rat pedal, famous for powering “arena rock rhythm tones and soaring leads”.
Explaining “Run” (which is directed by Tyler McLeod), Webber suggests that there were more than a couple of dark periods over the past few years. (Lightning Dust started out as a collaboration when she was in a relationship with Wells, and continues even now that the two are no longer a couple.)
"I chose to use rats because Vancouver’s got a special kinda grit to it that I think a city rat embodies perfectly,” Webber says of the video. “With the chugging movement of the song, rats on skateboards were a no brainer — plus it’s so fun! Much like the feelings I felt at the time of writing the song, I was lost, with little faith left. Like the rat, estranged from her pack and forced to adventure on her own. Similar to my own story, with the help of a new friendship, the lost rat is reunited and reconciled with her old world.”
As for what the rest of the world makes of “Run”, start with this YouTube comment from Strange Wayfaring Stranger: “Interesting video, I don’t proclaim to [know] what the hell is going on haha. But the song is amazing.”
Confusing? Only if you want it to be.
Nostalgia Killer is out June 9 on Western Vinyl.