city-lights

Cinematic savage Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind) unexpectedly dropped two bombs on us on Monday. First, he made a surprise music video for the new song “City Lights” by The White Stripes. Some of you may read that sentence and say “Ha! Good one, Screen Picks. Everybody knows the White Stripes are no longer together.” Well, therein lies the second bomb: there is a new White Stripes song (sort of)! The first since 2008. If you listen hard enough you can still hear the sound of hipsters everywhere rejoicing by cracking PBR’s and ironically singing along.

The “City Lights” video is a beautiful piece and a masterwork as well. Gondry must have majored in the art of subtle beauty, because he has that shit should be on his degree. The static camera divulges a glass shower door, with steam cascading over it from the running water. Behind the translucent glass is an unknown artist (presumably Gondry) who carves out beautiful images into the steamy surface. Each sketch he finishes is soon lost in the haze, just in time for a new one to start. Simple. Elegant. Delightful. I would expect nothing less from the man who made Noam Chomsky accessible with only a pencil and drawing pad.

The song itself is a charming acoustic melody about two people who take comfort in each other, whether they be friends or lovers. Gondry’s sketches reflect the lyrics as they come. They have a slight feel of cubism; this is none more apparent then when he draws two faces in profile looking into each others eyes. As that image begins to fade, Gondry draws a singular face starting with the outlines of the original two, suggesting that the couple has become one. This image also fades away with the passage of time. Damn, Michel. Why you gotta slam me over the head with these beautiful pieces of visual imagery, hinting at the fleeting nature of love and friendship? Not cool, bro.

The best part of the video is that Gondry did it without the knowledge or consent of The White Stripes. The song, never before released, was buried in a compilation album titled Jack White Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016. Apparently White dusted off this half completed track and brought it to the finish line for the album release. Gondry is apparently glad that he did because it inspired him enough to make a covert music video. With a small but loyal crew, he shot the simple piece and sent it over to them as a surprise.

The Stripes and Gondry have collaborated together on many now-famous music videos such as “Fell in Love With A Girl”, “Dead Leaves in the Dirty Ground”, “The Hardest Button to Button”, and “The Denial Twist.” What do you have for us next Michel? A secret collaboration with Elvis and the Tooth Fairy? Because I would watch it.

Watch “City Lights” below!