Pleader

Songfacts®:

  • This choir-led folk anthem closes Alt-J's Relaxer album. The song is based on Richard Llewelyn's 1939 novel How Green Was My Valley?, about a small mining community in 19th-century Wales.
  • The track was partly recorded in Ely Cathedral where keyboardist/backup vocalist Gus Unger-Hamilton used to be a chorister. The band explained to NPR's All Things Considered:

    "The song takes the form of a hymn, and so we went to Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire to record the boys' choir and the organ there, to add a church feeling to the track. It is a long song, but we felt the sense of pride and hope it leaves by the end made it the right choice for ending the album."
  • The song's haunting music video is a six-minute, cryptic miniature epic telling an elaborate tale of the relationship between a Welsh married couple and their son who live in a small countryside village.

    "When we set out to make a video for 'Pleader,' Joe (Newman) sent the following one line brief to director Isaiah Seret: 'a Welsh mining love story; a tidal wave of earth,'" the band revealed to NPR. "What Isaiah came back with was an epic short film, inspired both by the song's source material and Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice. A family must pit their desire to have a child against the knowledge that this would destroy their community. The hypnotic, hymnal quality of the song binds the video throughout, hinting at redemption while destruction takes place."

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