"Meet me here in Indecision," croons Simone Schmidt in The Highest Order's "Stare Down the Barrel of Today."
Typically, the Toronto songwriter's lyrics are the most attention-grabbing part of whatever she touches, whether that's the space country of The Highest or her solo(ish) project Fiver, but here she's challenged and supported by guitarist Paul Mortimer, who puts on an absolute wah wah clinic. That psychedelic, brain-scrambling twang is the perfect match for her words, which pull back to take on the big questions of today: the contextless, ever-nearly-present modern condition, where the meaning of life is always in the next tab... if only you could get to it before your browser crashes.
"Lyrically, it's definitely about feeling ruled by ambivalence - the state of feeling conflicting feelings simultaneously," Schmidt writes in an email to Chart Attack. "Most people can relate to that."
The video, directed by Schmidt herself, throws those lyrics onscreen for you, while surrounding them with clips shot over ten years on her mini DV camera, her own phone, her friends' phones, her "time sucking homespun animation" and, naturally, the internet. Both Paul and Simone TB's dogs, Joni and Roxy, feature. It's a rapid montage of tech-mediated screen life, both personal and shared, focusing only for seconds at a time
"I figured that people have had enough of multitasking," explains Schmidt, "and I would spare the viewer the need to YouTube while listening to music and just make it happen for them."
Naturally, Schmidt theorizes, our web-frazzled condition isn't limited to the web.
Lately people talk about it all the time in terms of the digital age, about rootlessness and our displacement on to the internet, about how the broader picture we're presented because of the internet at once makes us more knowledgeable globally, but less connected locally, and often pulled in too many conflicting directions. The will gets scattered till it can hardly be felt. I'm speaking personally about many sites of ambivalence - the trap and stasis of information overload- but also with austerity, and an economy that forces most of us to work for people we don't want to work for - the state of indecision you can feel at the beginning of the day, looking at all the options for survival that don't speak to your heart or what it means to have a good life with the earth and other people.