Music

Fell Runner Celebrate the Strange Dreams of an Unlikely Hero with "Jeffrey" (premiere)

Photo: John Schwerbel

California indie rockers, Fell Runner go back to basics with stop-motion animation for their unique, quirky new video, "Jeffrey".

Fell Runner excel at making glorious noise. With their self-titled 2015 debut album and its follow-up, last year's Talking, the California quartet have crafted a sound equal parts messy, meticulous, and jubilant. Taking cues from guitar-based indie rock, jazz, and West African rhythms, the result sounds something like Adrian Belew joining forces with Deerhoof.

It's no surprise that the video for "Jeffrey" (from Talking, and premiering here) takes on so many of the chaotic qualities of the band's music. Alec Cotugno has crafted a brilliant, back-to-basics clip by using stop-motion animation to tell the story of the titular sad sack who's laid off from his dull job (on his birthday, no less) and decides to realize his dream of building a rocket and flying off into space with his dog.

It's impossible not to fall in love with the video. Its oddball, "Wallace-and-Gromit-on-acid" nature is overflowing with quirky charm. It complements the song's twin guitar attack (courtesy of Steven van Betten and Gregory Uhlmann) and the crushing rhythm section (Marcus Hogsta on bass and Tim Carr on drums). The primitive aesthetic of the video and the unbounded arrangement of the song – which also employs soaring harmonies and plenty of jittery, stop/start tempo shifts – are a perfect match. Fell Runner's music – on this song as well as the rest of Talking – is so rich and layered, with such wonderful attention to lyric detail and musical density, that any of their songs could serve as subject matter for a unique video treatment.

Throughout the video, the viewer is drawn into the strange tale of Jeffrey and can't help rooting for him. "Jeffrey is an astronaut / He likes to fly about and look around" goes the uplifting chorus as Jeffrey himself blasts off into animated space. Fell Runner have created a sympathetic character and unlikely hero in this bright, cheerful song, and the accompanying video effectively brings the story to life - and into space.

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