It’s perhaps a bit of an odd choice to have the music video for your new single feature no cinematic imagery, only the lyrics in time with the song.
A cheap option at least? Dublin based and Mercury Prize nominated band Villagers video for their new single “Passing a Message” gives it a go. It was directed by Billy Pilgrim and has been eagerly awaited as the successor to their last critically acclaimed album “Becoming A Jackal”.
Usually a music video is a chance for a band to flaunt their personalities, strike a few poses and express their artistic merit without being judged- hey, it’s part of the job after all. Lets be honest, a lot of musicians love getting away with potentially pretentious behaviour and blaming it on their label. It is possible the simple concept of the video does reflect the Villagers attitude to their work- it is low key, it doesn’t show off. Their past albums are well known for their stripped back feel and they have been known to say that they try to create something “up close and personal”. Maybe a grand show biz video puts up a barrier between artist and audience, perhaps it makes them more reachable.
The video reminded me of watching opening credits at the cinema. Even while nothing is really happening in this case, you are generally still glued to the screen, waiting for it to. “Passing A Message” does treat us to trippy flashes, light effects and squiggles around the screen (maybe epileptics should sit this one out). And it is interesting to watch, despite the lack of visual narrative. If you’ve ever played music through a media player on your computer you’ll probably have sat watching the shapes and colours swirling in time for longer than seems appropriate. This is the sort of effect that the video for “Passing A Message” creates- it’s a little hypnotic.
It’s also a clever way of getting you to really listen to the music, because you are less distracted. You notice the separate entities of the set up- the twanging funky bass and the build up of erratic piano- more so than I think you would if there was imagery to concentrate on as well. The song is short and snappy, the kind that suddenly leaves you hanging so you end up wanting to play it again, a bit punk. Singer Conor J O’Brien, who has opened for Neil Young in his solo career, leads the band with his intimate but dramatic vocals. You are of course more aware of the lyrics too, O’Brien’s themes have been known for their examination of human nature and can sometimes be very dark.
The band are currently on tour with Grizzly Bear and are headlining two shows in Ireland next month, Dublin dates have already sold out. Judging by “Passing a Message”, the new album Awayland promises to be as atmospheric as Villager’s previous successful endeavours. Definitely worth checking tour details, should be good!
For more information visit www.wearevillagers.com or www.facebook.com/villagers
words Hannah Barr