We all have those romantic daydreams of cupid pulling its arrow, drawing it back just enough so there’s tension, much like between you and the person of your desire, until it propels across the room, hitting them into a cartoonish lovesick concussion. Perhaps it’s the tug of a smile that have you realizing their eyes will turn into giant love hearts at any second, or it’s the offering of a name if you haven’t met them yet. However, as much as even Taylor Swift herself can point out that “I’ve been the archer,” there’s also a finishing line to that ‘The Archer’ lyrical couplet, “I’ve been the prey.” Sometimes it’s not a sparkly pink arrow or even cupid itself but rather someone toxic who has decided to let you be their hit of validation.
In an impressive example of her voice’s power, Kelsey Hickman’s ‘Novocaine’ speaks to this destructive tryst. Immediately we examine its co-dependent themes when the first verse hits, “I know our love is a loaded gun. If I’m afraid to hold it, where is the fun? / Then you pulled your hammer back and shot me.” Then fleshed out within its country-rock guitar rifts and the pure anguish belted out in the chorus.
That’s just the song as a standalone, though! Under the production company Stormlight Pictures and director Logen Christopher, Kelsey lulls us even more into this tainted fairytale. It’s in the lens graphic of our supposed toxic hitman deciding to stalk what’s left of her love down, the continued specs of red that makes the music video feel cohesive. Even whiskey brought into intimate scenes that could’ve once been full of romanticism. Each of those techniques is worth exploring, so we’ve broken them down!
Off the bat, through the music video, we’re taken into the same imagery seen as the cover art for ‘Novacaine.’ The one which presents two Kelseys, one blurred out in the background and then another zoomed in a little in a square, a missionary target hit on her as if her heartbreak assassin is going in for the kill. We know just how important this shot is as the title interlaces with it around the four-second mark. We revisit this shot countless times. In a particular instance, we first see Kelsey’s back with a skull on the fabric of her denim jacket, representing how dead this relationship is. She then turns around to notice what’s happening. It’s not that she’s unsuspectingly targeted, but she very well knows what’s happening!
What does the color red symbolize? Perhaps it means sacrifice, lust, or even anger, but as soon as we brought forth the question, a stream of adjectives entered your head, and we’re guessing that most of them can be associated with love. Therefore it makes sense for the color to string on ‘Novocaine’s mood board! It’s in the whiskey Kelsey Hickman drinks in the kitchen, the harsh kitchen shadows making it look much darker than it is, the shards of glass in the sink which cuts her own skin, the transition between that very scene to back with the target lens, and even bouncing off her drummer’s kit when having a rock show in the middle of a field. It smartly interlaces the passion of those unbalanced feelings with not much effort required.
Whisky Splashed Intimacy
Of course, from the title, ‘Novocaine,’ we’re immediately hit with the metaphor of love being a drug. Yet rather than going with the typical route, Kelsey Hickman presents this by drinking whiskey in places we can imagine stolen moments in their relationship, such as the kitchen, bedroom, and restroom. Not only is she by herself now, but the whiskey could be the toxic stand-in for the person she is with, overshadowing other lovely moments such as cooking together or sharing a bed. Still, she hasn’t cut the relationship off either because while it shows her loneliness, she continues to intake something that’s not good for her.
Kelsey’s voice is its own powerhouse, and as she continues to be vulnerable with her work, we know she’ll be an addition to your forlorn listening seshes! If you’d like to be ahead of this musical curve, we propose that you create an entire playlist around ‘Novocaine.’ Music is therapy, after all! Tweet us yours over on Twitter @thehoneypop, and follow our Instagram and Facebook for the latest rising artist recommendations.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT KELSEY HICKMAN:
FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | WEBSITE | YOUTUBE