Next month, Sleigh Bells release their fourth album Jessica Rabbit. “I Can Only Stare” is the album’s biggest and brightest moment, continuing the US duo’s transition from making noise pop to making pop pop, with Alexis Krauss’s euphoric vocal soaring above Derek Miller’s arena-sized production. Even at their most pristine, though, Sleigh Bells always have a raw energy, and that extends to their visual universe, too. The new video for “I Can Only Stare” was shot on Super 16mm film, giving its colours and shadows a gritty quality that’s often lost with slick digital photography.
The clip was co-directed by up-and-coming independent filmmaker Alex Ross Perry and the band’s own Derek Miller. “Alex’s last film, Queen of Earth, was one of my favorites of 2015,” Miller explains, “There’s a tense, ominous quality to it which I hoped he would bring to the video. He did.” The video sees singer Alexis Krauss play “three doomed women” in sorrowful cirumstances. It balances melodrama with genuine sinisterness, and there’s a dark sense of humour at play, too. “It’s bleak, but hopefully inspiring too,” says Miller, “Most of us have probably felt like one or all three of these characters at some point in time. I know I have.”
“I had never been asked to direct anything, at all, ever, prior to Derek reaching out via Instagram about whether or not a collaboration would be something I might consider,” Perry adds, “I was flattered, and immediately interested. I knew from their prior videos that Sleigh Bells had a particular aesthetic and I was interested in finding ways to bring my working methods to that table.” Perry used old school methods to make the video – not just the Super 16mm format, but also in the use of rear projection (rather than green screen) for the performance scenes. “The band trusted me to realize these ideas,” says Perry, “(They) made me feel like an equal partner whose ideas pushed the concept to places no other director might have pursued.”