Alt-J’s “Breezeblocks” Lyrics Meaning
“Breezeblocks” is highly-metaphorical, thus compelling us to rely more on the artist’s explanation of it as opposed to the lyrics in ascertaining its meaning. But there are two ideas that can be definitively gleaned solely from the wording, as confusing as they may read at some points.
One is that the romantic relationship between the singer and addressee, as featured, is a tumultuous one. And with that notion in mind, it can also be rather easily concluded that the former is obsessed with the latter.
And that brings us to Joe Newman’s own description of what’s going down here. The vocalist is in fact a troubled character, someone whose love for the addressee is manifested in a destructive way. That is to say that he is the type of individual who will hurt himself to retain her. Furthermore, he is also violent towards her in that regard.
A very Disturbed Character
And as explained, it doesn’t read as if he is abusive per se. Rather it’s more like he has mental issues, or as we usually would say in this blog is not yet mature enough to handle the ups and downs of romance. In fact it would appear that the addressee no longer wants to be with him. But he’s not letting her go without a fight, in the physical sense of the word.
And with the music industry being what it is, ideologically encapsulating the entire spectrum of human emotion and experience, we have come across songs like this in the past. In other words, this is not the first track featuring a male vocalist who simply cannot process or accept his woman leaving, cheating or what have you, without having some type of criminally-adverse reaction.
But Breezeblocks does a better job than most in concealing that emotion, if you will, behind poetic language. And this is not to imply that Alt-J is advocating this type of behavior as, all things considered, this song is probably meant to shed light on the issue of domestic violence.
And the music video, which we will get to shortly, does a better job in driving that point home.
When was “Breezeblocks” released?
This song was made public by a label called Infectious Music on the date of 18th, May 2012.
Success of “Breezeblocks”
“Breezeblocks” was Alt-J’s third single overall and their first big hit. “Breezeblocks” went on to be certified platinum in the US as well as their homeland of the UK. This is in addition to earning triple-platinum status in Australia. Moreover, it peaked at number six on the UK Indie Chart and also appeared on four different US Billboard listings.
Alt-J is a band from Leeds who came into existence in 2007. Three of its founders – vocalist J. Newman, drummer T.S. Green and keyboardist A. Unger-Hamilton – remain members of the band to this day. A fourth, guitarist G. Sainsbury, participated on this track but left the group in 2014.
Throughout the years to date, Alt-J has managed to release three studio albums, as well as a live album and a remix album. Their second studio album, This Is All Yours, managed to top the UK Albums Chart and peak at number 4 on the Billboard 200, thus marking their most-successful project of the 2010s.
As some readers have perhaps already presumed, this band’s name is derived from a keyboard shortcut (Alt + J). And traditionally when typed on Macintosh (i.e. Apple) computers, it renders the triangle (Δ) symbol.
The “An Awesome Wave” Project
“Breezeblocks” was actually derived from their debut album, “An Awesome Wave, which did not chart as well as the second but has proven to be a bigger commercial success.
In fact “Breezeblocks” remains the most-profitable song, judging by its aforenoted certifications, that Alt-J has ever put out.
Who wrote “Breezeblocks”?
The four aforementioned members of the crew are the writers of this track. And it was produced by fellow Briton, Charlie Andrew, who had been affiliated with Alt-J even prior to the band going pro.
This song was inspired by a classic piece of children’s literature entitled Where the Wild Things Are (1963) by Maurice Sendak (1928-2012).
The official music video to this track, which one Ellis Bahl directed, took home a UK Music Video Award. It won the said award in the category of Best Alternative Video in 2012. Indeed it has proven enduringly popular and as opposed to the musicians themselves feature a handful of professional actors including:
- Eleanor Pienta
- Jessica DiGiovanni
- Jonathan Dwyer
Meaning of “Breezeblocks” Music Video
The music video to this track presents its own challenges in terms of understanding what’s going down. This is largely because the depicted narrative is actually played in reverse.
Joe Newman has explained that it “has a really different message” from the song itself, but there are some fundamental similarities also.
And to make a long story short, Jonathan Dwyer is playing the role of an abusive husband. His abuse is most-overtly manifested by actually tying up and gagging his wife. He even goes on to lock her up in a closet. The role of his wife is portrayed by Eleanore Pienta.
So then enters the other character in this scene, who is played by Jessica DiGiovanni. Using logical reasoning, it would appear that she is the sister, bestie or some other similarly-aged loved one of the abused wife.
So she sets about trying to free Eleanore, violently confronting Jonathan with a butcher’s knife. This results in a heated battle where, in a fit of rage, Jonathan then proceeds to murder her using a breeze block (i.e. cinderblock).
Role of the Breezeblock in the Video and Song
So the visual is different from the audio in a number of ways. For instance, the breezeblock is a literal device in the video. However, in the song, it can be deemed as serving primarily a symbolic function. In the song, it is representative of the vocalist forcefully ‘holding down’ the addressee.
Also the video introduces a third party that is not featured in the lyrics, and unlike the song it does in fact climax in murder.
But both works of art center on the same character, an abusive male lover, who is woefully supplanting the freedom of movement of the woman he loves. And as depicted in the visual in particular, this is akin to a nightmare scenario as far as she is concerned.
But as for the song itself, it never really focuses on her reaction to his aggressiveness. Or if anything, the lyrics read as if she has grown accustomed to this abuse and even regularly partakes the violence herself.