Music video aficionado and Scroll contributor Tristan Viner-Brown is back for a roundup of the best music video art direction from July. Read below for a ranked list of his favorites!
1.) LE1F – “Wut” (displayed above)
(Dir. Sam Jones)
For the first single off his free mixtape, Dark York, released in April, New York-based, swag-tastic rapper, Le1f, has solidified himself as one of the brightest and most culturally significant stars to watch for. While much attention has been paid to his homosexuality, Le1f’s talent speaks for itself. He spits rhymes that are a juicy mix of braggadocio, sexual prowess and humor. Most importantly, however, he heralds the dawn of a new, internet-fueled age of hip-hop where static categories of genre and gender are broken down and remixed. The video for “Wut” is a testament to this exciting wave of evolution. Le1f and a handful of backup dancers dressed in selections from Brooklyn streetwear label, RHLS, pop, shake, and bounce around to the infectious beat produced by 5kinAndBone5. The backdrop and lighting alternate between bright white and shadowy dark, reflecting a bare-all attitude while maintaining a sense of mystery. A highlight from the clip features Le1f on the lap of a chiseled, oiled up dude in a Pikachu mask.
2.) Jessie Ware – “Wildest Moments”
(Dir. Kate Moross)
Jessie Ware’s debut album, Devotion, is out August 20th, but the English songstress’s first three singles have already been met with much acclaim. The videos for the first two, “Running” and “110%” were solidly sexy, funky, and well-styled, but the video for her latest track, “Wildest Moments”, is positively captivating. You can’t help but fall in love with Ms. Ware as she slowly turns 360˚ against a white backdrop, weighing the highs and lows of an intense relationship. She connects extremely well to the camera, making the viewer feel like she’s singing to them. Just as she feels it impossible not to be magnetized to the song’s subject, it is impossible to look away from this clean, wistful clip.
3.) Purity Ring – “Fineshrine”
(Directed by Young Replicant)
Canadian electro duo, Purity Ring, have been enchanting us with their deep, dreamy sounds since their first single, “Ungirthed”, was released in early 2011. Following the stormy psychedelia of the video for their second single, “Belispeak”, the video for “Fineshrine” is similarly brutal and romantic in atmosphere and subject matter. The protagonist approaches her lover, who lies bandaged and unconscious in bed with a pair of scissors as vocalist Megan James croons, “cut open my sternum and pull/my little ribs around you”. Surreal visions of metal-spewing statues, marble gazebos, mist, and falling airplanes ensue.
4.) Santigold – “The Keepers”
(Dir. Santi White)
Back with a vengeance on her sophomore album, Master of My Make-Believe, Philly-raised Santigold delivers yet again with the clip for her fourth single, “The Keepers”. The self-directed video gives a whole new meaning to the ‘nuclear family’ trope. As a 50’s style family sits down for a 50’s style dinner, every dish is colored a sickly, radioactive green. Completely oblivious to (or in denial of) their poisoned entrees, the family happily eats until they experience a more sinister interruption. The video further clarifies the song’s message: “while we sleep in America/our house is burning down”, and is a cartoonish, grotesque take on the current state of affairs in the U.S.
5.) Sigur Rós – Varúð
(Dir. Ryan McGinley)
For their sixth album, Icelandic indie outfit, prove they can still keep us under their spell. Taking an unconventional approach on this release, the band decided to start a project called ‘The Valtari Mystery Film Experiement’, where they have given twelve filmmakers the same budget and carte blanche to direct a video for one of the album’s songs. This was conceived out of an effort to bypass any sort of “pre-programmed emotional response” to their music and generate an amalgamation of different artistic perspectives (sigur-ros.co.uk). New York-based photographer and videographer, Ryan McGinley, directed this entrancing take on the third track, “Varúð”, which features a young woman with tinsel hair skipping in slow motion through the city.