ABOVE: ONLY YOU'S RACHEL FANNAN. IMAGE COURTESY OF CLAIRE CRONIN
When Rachel Fannan, the singer and songwriter behind the southern California group Only You, performs the first action in the video for the band's debut single, "Applying Myself," it's a simple gesture: Fannan gracefully swings her body towards a television and flips it on. The television flashes the opening display for an outdated karaoke program, which instructs Fannan to sing her own song "In the style of nostalgia and angst." Throughout the video, Fannan does exactly as suggested, draping her body over pianos and tables, swigging whiskey from bottles and slouching into couches. She's surrounded by faceless, passed-out partiers and her seemingly lucid bandmates, moving lethargically in and out of frame, in slow motion clouds of cigarette smoke.
"I can't feel anything," a hunched Fannan sings into the karaoke microphone. Her eyes are shut and her voice is clear, and rather soaring. What's striking about the video is how alone Fannan seems, at this dilapidated party, in full makeup and a midriff-baring top, swaying and dancing like she's on stage. At one point she collapses her body onto a couch, writhing and arching her back, microphone in one hand, the other pulling and gripping her hair. These moments of emotional desperation, however, are interspersed with Fannan swathed in cushions, barely mouthing her lyrics, next to an unconscious man. And then she's back, the song breaking into jaunty, guitar driven melodies reminiscent of Zombies tracks, swaggering confidently.
The rawness of the song is relatable and lovely. Like any good torch song, the best time to listen to "Applying Myself" is on a heartbroken late-night drive. And as Fannan presses her face against the jukebox, closing her eyes and singing into the plastic, we're feeling it all right along with her.
FOR MORE ON ONLY YOU, VISIT THE BAND'S FACEBOOK PAGE.