If ever you have a brief moment of luddite paranoia regarding the NSA or social networking or the desire to throw your smartphone into the sewer and abscond to the woods to live off the grid — know that Conor Oberst is with you, at least in spirit. The proof: Rolling Stone has an exclusive preview of Oberst's latest music video, the first from his new album Upside Down Mountain, for the song "Zigzagging Toward the Light." As in many a Bright Eyes clip before it, there's some serious story going on — but this time, it's all about an eerie black and white techno-fueled dystopia, like a cross between Her and 1984.
The video begins in 2024, where Oberst is being questioned by a disembodied female interviewer, who cautions him early on that "the camera is everywhere" — playing into the fear of privacy loss that comes with our panoptic age (see also: Oberst's own distaste for his iPhone expressed in his recent Rolling Stone profile). The conceit is indeed perfectly creepy: "Show us what's inside your head," the voice begs, like one of the twins from The Shining — but, at that point, the video cuts back to 2014, where the singer finally gets to singing: stumbling down city streets, speaking the lyrics into a recorder.
Indeed, once the song gets started, it proves to be pretty standard Oberst fare, trotting out some on point verbal angst in his familiar verge-of-tears warble: "Home is a perjury, a parlor trick, an urban myth," "True love it hides like city stars" — words that will surely decorate middle school journal pages for years to come. Still, the would-be prophetry of the opening casts his traditional mournful shoegaze in a contemporary light, making the singer seem even more jaded (and thereby proving such an unthinkable feat possible).
Check out the clip, below: