A Filmic Reading Of Alt J's New Video
    • MONDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2015

    • Posted by: Jason Greenspan

    English indie rockers Alt-J released the music video for "Pusher" today off of their 2014 album This Is All Yours. Bleak, morose, and intense, the visuals faithfully reflect the pained lyrical content and haunting sonic sensibility. While aesthetically simple, it contains layers of complexity rife with philosophical commentary and reference. Directed by Thomas Rhazi, the video is powerful and captivating, providing the track with fantastic visual accompaniment.

    The opening shot sees a steady-gaited man in suit and rain jacket approaching the center of a vast field filled with similarly corporate people. The sky is menacingly gray, the surroundings reminiscent of Chernobyl post-disaster as the camera begins to pan shakily. The man respectfully dusts off a platform, steps up, and begins delivering to the hollow onlookers what appears to be a solemn sermon. Camera still panning circularly, we pass through the inside of a car, catching a glimpse of a corpse-like figure lying dead in the back seat. This quasi-religious gathering offers not hope, but resignation to a loneliness akin to death. "And I lack the zest of a lemon looking forward/Unless I have a woman pushing me," bereft of love or acceptance, the protagonist has given up.

    As gray skies blacken and stadium lights illuminate, our preacher's sermon turns violent and disillusioned as the audience gazes with eery detachment. He breaks down, ripping out hair and crying hysterically as he crumbles — both literally and figuratively — under the immense weight of his pain. You can't help but see Willie Loman from Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman, the unfortunate company man abandoned by all that he held dear and pushed to suicide. And with the camera close enough to capture our protagonist's ghoulish features, he grips his own head and twists with resolve, putting an eternal end to the suffering. The opening line of the song repeats; "If you're willing to wait for the love of your life/Please wait by the line." You can believe in this "love" thing if you want, but Alt-J suggests that it's nothing but a fallacy. The crowd retreats silently, unaffected by the gruesome display. Just as the man cried out to deaf ears, we are alone in our pain. We die inside and not one member of our flock arrives with aid. Somehow the director has managed to inject some kind of sick beauty into this dark tale.

    "Are you a pusher or are you a puller?" Alt-J's question seems to ask whether you are the catalyst of catastrophic love-sickness or the unfortunate victim, and Thomas Rhazi has given it brilliant visual context.

    For its clarity of message and striking cinematic style, I give this video a solid 5 out of 5 stars.

    Read into the video for "Pusher" below, and check out our exclusive live interview and session with Alt-J.

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