Exclusive Music Video Premiere: Princeton Gets Unsettling

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Published May 10, 2011

Princeton self-identifies heavily with Los Angeles—they named themselves after their former LA address, for starters—so it’s satisfying to see that they do Raymond Chandler as well as anyone. The kinda-synthy, kinda-minimalist, totally rhythm-obsessed band’s new video, “The Electrician,” is a crime novel (if you took out the crime and left the sorrow and blood).

“The Electrician” has a thicker layer of textures than Princeton’s previous offerings, with a shifting track of guitar drones and electronic hums supporting a deliberate, creeping vocal. It’s slow, but in no way lacking in dramatic tension. Active Child, another practitioner of electronica with soul, donates his feathery vocals and is the video’s mysterious, ill-fated protagonist. The clip works pretty marvelously with the song, which itself seems to pass in three or so theatrical acts. The first: All is quiet. The town is a jungle of navy-shadowed interiors whose inhabitants glance longingly out at what they’re missing whenever they pass a window, and yet can’t bring themselves to leave.

Act II: The reverberating drums kick in, and so does our hero. The camera begins to mimic the insistent beat. We cut back and forth between a frantic chase and a measured piece of choreography until we’re completely panicked: What does adrenaline do to the body? How do we work ourselves into these frenzies? Is this what was going on in Natalie Portman’s head when she stabbed that other ballerina chick?

Act III: The drums give way, once again, to delicate sustained tones, and the emotional payoff comes in the very last shots. The storylines converge. LA starts to look a little less terrifying. And we really begin to appreciate that a video can still be a gorgeous cinematic narrative without, ahem, a six-minute musicless intro and more product placements than lyrics.