All Songs Considered
Fri November 2, 2012
Watch The Creepy New Video By Mercury Prize Winners Alt-J
Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 8:03 am
Alt-J is a quirky band that, over the past few months, has found its way to the top of my listening pile and is now my favorite album of the year. I'm not alone. Yesterday Alt-J's album, An Awesome Wave, won the Mercury Prize. This choice prize for bands in Great Britain is selected by music journalists and other music business folks and often goes to underdogs. This year is no exception. Alt-J is a bit of a polarizing band; more than anything else, the acquired taste here is the singing style of Joe Newman, which I've heard folks compare to Andy Kaufman's Latka character on Taxi as well as Elmer Fudd. But this band won me over in live performance. Their mystery, their quirky beats and the cinematic nature of the words and sounds are why this band hits my sweet spot.
Today we've got a video for you for "Fitzpleasure," one of the darkest songs on An Awesome Wave. It's filmed in gritty black and white, and features characters who look normal at first before they reveal subtly freakish qualities, courtesy of some natural-looking special effects. The song is inspired by Tralala, a prostitute who is the main character in one chapter of the controversial 1964 novel Last Exit To Brooklyn by Hubert Selby, Jr. The chapter in the book ends in a gang rape, but the violence in the song, as with all things Alt-J, is oblique. That affected storytelling pairs well with the quirks I've come to love in Joe Newman's. The band's style is kind of like its name — oblique as well, but once you understand that it's a keyboard shortcut on a Mac computer for making the Delta (or triangle shape — ∆) and that for the band's members that shape represents change, as it does in mathematical equations, then it all falls neatly into place.