Mozes and the Firstborn, TOY, Backer, Blue States, and Jess Williamson led a strong charge of new songs to get Wednesday off on the right foot. A handful of excellent music videos came from the ranks of Plush, Prince Daddy & The Hyenas, Weyes Blood, Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam, Crushed Out, The Julie Ruin, Belle & Sebastian, and Cass McCombs. Tying everything together in a bow were full streams from DARK MTNS, JEFF The Brotherhood, Gauntly, Dog Orchestra, and Horseback, as well as a memorable five-year anniversary compilation from New Professor where the artist from the label cover each other’s work.
As significant as all of those were, only a few came close to matching the inexplicable emotional pull of the music video for Slothrust‘s “Horseshoe Crab”. After catching the band at Suburbia last year, the band’s maintained a consistent position on this site. Expect that position to progressively intensify as their forthcoming record, Everyone Else, draws closer. “Horseshoe Crab” kicked off the trio’s rollout campaign and now they’re capitalizing on the growing interest the single accrued with an unflinchingly intimate music video that pays homage both to their DIY ethos and their penchant for embracing uncomfortable honesty.
Slothrust built a strong reputation for themselves following the release of “Crockpot“, which easily stands out as one of the best tracks of this current decade. “Horseshoe Crab” comes across as a natural continuation of the template established by “Crockpot”, refining some of the band’s approach in the process. A 2016 highlight, “Horseshoe Crab” now has an intuitive CJ Riehl and Emmy Kenny-directed video as a complementary accompaniment that taps into something inextricably connected to Slothrust’s core.
Cleverly opening on a vantage point that skims a waterline, there’s a tonal sense of bittersweet tranquility that eases viewers into some confrontational imagery: sand, ants crawling over hands, hastily applied nail polish, and a papier mache doll all factor into play. Before long, the focal point becomes guitarist/vocalist Leah Wellbaum, surveying an expansive collection of dolls and figurines on the beach, while stuck in a state of melancholic longing.
All of the early imagery is filtered through an unavoidable sense of nostalgic mourning, lending “Horseshoe Crab” a quiet devastation that elevates the project. Johanna Brooks’ cinematography caters to all of this beautifully, successfully creating an additional empathetic character that also serves as an audience stand-in. Pushing the effect to almost unbearable heights is Brooks’ decision to shoot from Wellbaum’s POV, conjuring up nearly direct access to a deep-seated understanding that becomes so realistic that it approaches levels of genuine duress.
The middle section of “Horseshoe Crab” touches on the distancing that linear time necessitates before plunging fearlessly into a near-euphoric exploration of the unknown. During that connected sequence, the distancing is established by leaving a trail of figurines on a path, one by one. It’s a deeply effective move that’s matched by the arrival of the song’s extraordinary solo, which the video takes as a cue to momentarily ascend before diving back into the water.
In the most breathtaking sequence “Horseshoe Crab” has to offer, there’s a gorgeous underwater shot of Wellbaum sinking to to the bottom of a pool that’s intercut with sea creatures, directly referencing the song’s incredible lyrics. By the clip’s end, the band and the team they’ve assembled to shoot, edit, and produce “Horseshoe Crab” have created an unforgettable meditation on nostalgic loss, alienation, existential crises, and the malleability of longing. It’s an unlikely masterpiece that benefits from its own modesty and it deserves to be remembered fondly.
Watch “Horseshoe Crab” below, view an early performance beneath the initial embed, and pre-order Everyone Else here.