A smoldering string arrangement peeks at us from behind a curtain of passive silence as we set upon A Place to Bury Strangers’ new single and music video “Playing the Part.” Though the first thirty seconds of this track more or less give us a pretty solid indication as to what kind of tonal pleasures await in the next few minutes of play, it isn’t until we get deeper into the track that we can appreciate just how much is really going on here. With what feels like a thousand working parts grinding together at once, A Place to Bury Strangers dish out one of the more cerebral and appropriately surreal works of their discography to date.
The music video for “Playing the Part” feels a little more psychologically provocative than it is probably due to the jarring compilation of relatively soft frames that almost outpaces the rhythm of the drums, but it always makes its soundtrack the key feature. There’s no difference between the mix of the video and the single, but I think that when looking at the imagery in the video we get a taste of the mod, post-punk, and Seattle-style indie rock that has influenced these players and made them the intriguing, impossible-to-peg group of musicians they are now.
A Place to Bury Strangers have been in this business for well over a decade, and while they aren’t capable of hiding their experience in a piece as multilayered as this one is, they do manage to show off a lot of maturity in their approach to the narrative in this song as well. “Playing the Part” has commentarial moments, but it never sounds judgmental or even slightly sarcastic in style. As I see it, this single spotlights musicianship and poetic depth still becoming everything it can be today.