Fresh off Cage the Elephant’s most recent album, Tell Me I’m Pretty, single “Trouble” sounds like the soundtrack to a Clint Eastwood classic, playing through the muted daylight of an LA sunset. Its newly released music video only serves to add characteristics of a classic Old Western, following the journey of a young cowboy through the desert while the band performs in traditional, old-fashioned clothing.
Lead singer Matt Shultz said that in this video, his directorial debut, he wanted to create something that looked like “John Wayne … in a [Jean] Cocteau play.” Describing the adventures of the video’s young cowboy as a “metaphorical journey that hopefully people could read between the lines,” Shultz realized this goal by paying homage to both films and music videos before this one’s creation.
The video opens with wide-view shots of the desert and clips of the band performing the song to an audience of no one. These clips remain interspersed throughout the video as it becomes increasingly more surreal—after the protagonist kills a rival in a duel, he is haunted by the victim’s ghostly image, chased by paparazzi-like fans, invited to a coven of painted men and ladies that almost perfectly echo the video for The Killers’ Mr. Brightside, and is sucked into the whirlwind of a life of fame as he takes on his new role as the king of the desert.
By the end of the video, it’s clear Shultz is trying to express his and his fellow band members’ adjustment to the life of fame. But even without this greater meaning, “Trouble” is an aesthetically pleasing and entertaining watch, combining nostalgia for the Old West, the early 2000s, and simple, solitudinous life all in a four-minute video.
Featured Image By RCA