Set in an empty and decaying house with high ceilings, lit only by the sun’s rays dulled by large net curtains, and filmed in black and white, Bobby Gillespie and Jehnny Beth play the parts of former lovers whose relationship is as ruined as the scene in which they stage their duet. A winding staircase and Beth’s shoulder pads lend some tasteful Victorianism to the melodrama – think Sweeney Todd rather than Oliver Twist.
Despite the sonic and artistic innovation that both artists have pursued elsewhere, the song places melodic and textural pop refinement before pushing boundaries. Generically, it threatens to approach contemporary pop-rock territory, but the resistant idiosyncrasies of the singers and the arrangement of the dialogue keeps any Coldplay-ism at bay. Chase It Down sounds more like Gillespie and Beth are singing at a void in each other’s general direction. It is a breakdown in communication.
Gillespie’s relaxed verses showcase his unmistakeable rocker’s drawl and are replete with general sentiments which make clear that his character is emotionally distanced from the particularity of the scenario: ‘Every woman every man / Everybody is a star’, ‘Run your race / Sing your song’, but most importantly, ‘I don’t even love you / Anymore’. Beth’s sections, on the other hand, carry a stinging emotional immediacy, bolstered by her quasi-operatic voice and staccato strings. She rages in a boxroom and against a despondent and unresponsive Gillespie. At the end of the song, the two are finally singing together, although fittingly in counterpoint rather than harmony. Just as a little salt can highlight the sweet, Gillespie and Beth bring out the strengths in one another where you wouldn’t expect it.