Alt-J Contort Bodies, Reality in ‘Fitzpleasure’ Video
From the Mercury Prize-winning 'An Awesome Wave' LP
Stateside audiences are only now getting familiar with the art-addled, propulsive pop majesty of English band Alt-J, but, really, that’s a gift. Their September LP debut An Awesome Wave just took home Britain’s prestigious Mercury Prize with good reason — the album is a stunner to take in on the first listen, and its unusual allure only seems to grow on repeated spins. Perhaps it’s the enigma in the group’s sound and lyrics, a quality which they make a point to highlight in their reality-augmenting music videos. “Tesselate,” for instance, offers a Kanye West-style living tableau replete with mean-mugging gangsters, grooving girlies, and great white sharks, and the new one for “Fitzpleasure” is equally surreal.
French director Emile Sornin delivers a black and white clip set in a rundown cityscape, but the real strangeness comes from the characters therein: turf dancers contorting themselves in impossible ways, basketball players with prosthetic limbs, old men with two faces or tongues for eyes. While some elements are clearly invented, others are hard to suss out, and the entire thing feels somehow imbued with the pagan crazy of Greek mythology. The song itself thankfully has nothing to do with making Fitz of the Tantrums happy. One SongMeanings.com user makes a strong case for the mysterious lyrics being inspired by Hubert Selby, Jr.’s 1964 novel Last Exit to Brooklyn, an unflinching look at the potential brutality of urban life.