Alt-J's debut track from their third album 'Relaxer' comes with a strange and unsettling promo by Young Replicant. Telling a tale of forbidden love in rural Mexico where fate manifests itself as a bolt from the blue, the clip feels more like a short film that's scored by Alt-J than a visual complement to the song... in a good way.
A sense of magical realism runs throughout the narrative in which a comely girl appears to kill herself with poison, assisted by - possibly - her grandmother. As beautiful in death as in life, her eyes closed with coins and her corpse shrouded in lace, she is laid to rest in a coffin and carried up to the high plateaus beyond her village. The coffin is then taken on by horse, led by a young man... her lover.
It's soft and sad and timeless. It conjures windswept landscapes and drifting hearts as the young man leaves the world further and further behind, hauling his precious burden. The visual aspect is stunning. The austere beauty of the mountains - huge swells of cumulus throwing the bare vistas into stark relief - reminds us that our brief time on this planet is of no consequence to the planet itself, and suggests we may as well believe in magic as science for all we know about our origins.
When lightning hits, it is a metaphysical blow as much as an actual one. If the pair have hoped to defy their community by faking the girl's death and striking out together, nature's indifference or the gods' wrath decreea that they can't outsmart what is bigger than them.
The video rather goes against the message of the song. When Ellie Rowson (of Wolf Alice) sings “Love is just a button we pressed last night by the campfire”, she seems to be saying we shouldn't overthink the reasons for our desires. They are what they are. But this haunting story suggests that we are shaped by desire. Whether first love or a midlife fling, or a glowing memory in a faded body, our experiences have the power to alter the course of life and reverberate down the generations.