MUSIC VIDEO ANALYSIS: ALT-J (∆) BREEZEBLOCKS

A pure example of why you shouldn’t jump to conclusions, the video accompanying Alt-J’s premiere hit single Breezeblocks is a wild ride from start to finish. It’s the band’s first video, directed by Ellis Bahl, a formidable force on the indie music video scene.

Do you know where the wild things go?

The video’s claim to fame is that it’s all backwards. The story has no context until the end of the song,where our characters begin their journey. This allows for countless fan theories on what’s actually being represented: a lover’s quarrel? A psychopathic jealous ex? Anniversary surprise gone wrong? Who’s to say- nobody involved with the making of the video has given a concrete answer. Bahl says she’s left it up to the viewer’s interpretation, perhaps to appeal to a wider audience. If you come to your own conclusions, you’ll probably be happy with the video as a whole, because in your mind, the whole thing makes sense.

Soggy Clothes and Breezeblocks

Looking at it literally, the video begins with an apparently dead woman in a bloody bathtub with a breezeblock on her chest holding her underwater (sidenote- I didn’t know what a breezeblock was until I saw this video and read the comments, where people were using the term “breezeblock” where I would have said “cinderblock”). It cuts to an anguished man holding his head in his hands, focusing on his wedding ring. We see back-wards motion of him chasing the lady down the hall brandishing aforementioned breezeblock, eventually striking her over the head and her falling into the tub, the whole scene intercut with visual of the tub faucet. The couple struggles with the breezeblock, which we see was taken from a very hipstery side table. Soon-to- be-dead woman throws a bottle at the man, missing his head and hitting the wall. We see how they arrived into the kitchen, by tackling each other and being thrown over the back of a couch. We’re then introduced to another character, Stripes, with a pained expression on her face, watching Bathtub and Mystery Man fight over a knife. It seems Bathtub was trying to stab her opponents, but he succeeded in disarming her. As the camera shifts back-an- forth between Stripes and the fighters, we see that Stripes is bound inside a closet, unable to intervene. We see the man before the quarrel, attempting to consolidate Stripes as Undisclosed Female Counterpart approaches with the knife from behind. We see that Stripes has a matching wedding band, indicating that she’s important to Male Figure. The video ends with the man entering the apartment and tossing his keys on a shelf.

Germolene, Disinfect the Scene

The most popular interpretation of the scene laid before us is that Green Jacket is a jealous ex who breaks into Stripe’s and Man’s flat and plans to kill Stripes by way of bathtub. The biggest question that divides the theories amongst viewers is who is the assailant? And is the relationship between Stripes and the Concerned Man really as pure as the rings would make it seem? Was Crazy Eyes a problem in the past, or is this all new and unexpected? Or is the Man really the issue? Maybe holding Stripes hostage was a setup to distract Man, and Jacket and Stripes were in cahoots, and would have framed the kidnapping on Man and hailed Greensleeves as the hero.

All You Ever Send Are Full Stops

This video will certainly go down in history as one of the better ones from the twenty-teens (so far, at least). The song itself is catchy, and any 4-minute video that can lead to an hour-long debate is surely a good one. Though we’ll probably never know the situation between Stripes, Mystery Lady and the Unfortunate Man, any interpretation is as valid as the next, and comes with its own merits. Nobody’s theory is wrong, and that’s why this video is already so beloved and not likely to be forgotten.