In much the same way that music can evoke nostalgia, joy, and anger, its most effective use often occurs in the guise of fright. It’s in this style that Justin Sweatt’s Xander Harris project strikes an ominous chord.
Borrowing liberally from his musical namesake, Sweatt blends throwback synth and drums (without little irony to be found) with creepshow paranoia. The video for “Tanned Skin Dress,” from his Not Not Fun album, Urban Gothic, could not better encapsulate the creepshow of horror programing and real life scares. The viewer plays the role of the stalker and though the vantage is uncomfortable, an equally jarring experience rattles around the eardrums.
It’s a lot for the weak and the strong to endure (particularly the stark reminder at the end of the video of just how atrocious human nature is in the mind of the unbalanced) but like the sycophant in all of us, the dark tones of Sweatt’s Xander Harris persona stick in an unlikely manner: urban fear subsides into catchy, and relatively calming, gothica. How “Tanned Skin Dress” is ultimately judged falls to us. Rather than point fingers at the reminder, we can use it as a rally. We can’t stand to be victims any longer, so let’s take back what we can beginning with Urban Gothic.