Gross! In a fun Garbage Pail Kids way. But wait: under the coy crude veneer of Allen Cordell‘s music videos for Beach House, Tobacco and Future Islands, there’s a natural grace at work. An innate understanding of rhythm, a surprising sympathy for our fellow man. Characters with creepy faces dance angrily amidst gooey special effects, and somehow, the repressed desires bubbling beneath the surface manage to wrench your heart. Or maybe that’s backwards– maybe it starts with a sense of humanity and then pulls the rug out to reveal the absurd. Like, “Longing. It’s beautiful, yeah, but it’s also ridiculous.” Either way, misery and frustration are the unlikely fuel for a nervous humor here. We’re encouraged to laugh, even as we cheer on the lonesome-hearted.
Cordell’s paintings exist in a similar cloud of uncertainty, appropriating images of pornography, horror films, animals and anonymous strangers to unsettling effect. Those thrilling and frightening parts of childhood rendered in sharp relief.