As How to Dress Well‘s video trilogy from the questing, confessional, detail-rich new album “What Is This Heart?” concludes, the wordlessness of it all suddenly stands out. Yes, of course, the actors in music videos generally aren’t supposed to speak — they’re playing out a story set to the song — but HTDW mastermind Tom Krell is nothing if not verbally communicative, whether in candid interviews, in his free-associative lyrics or, where else, on Twitter. By the end of the visuals for the new record’s buoyant “Childhood Faith in Love (Everything Must Change, Everything Must Stay the Same)” (a title that is itself a mouthful!) you may find yourself wishing the young-couple protagonists could turn to the camera and explain what these carefully crafted yet deeply enigmatic visuals All Mean, maaan.
But there’s a reason “What Is This Heart?” arrives as a question, not an answer. The clip for “Childhood Faith” follows the videos for “Repeat Pleasure” and “Face Again,” and the third installment recaps the highlights from those before returning to a convenience-store setting, outside of which the two lovers stuff each other’s faces with snacks and eerie children cast their eyes toward the sky. Johannes Greve Muskat, who directed the videos, also co-wrote the story with Krell and creative director Luke Gilford; their work here shares the album’s hair-raising mix of intimate revelation and oracular abstraction. Though Krell has long demonstrated his affinity for stretching the boundaries of R&B, he recently suggested to me his music might be better conceived of as folk. Approach the video below with that spirit, but bear in mind that we’re talking about an astral, contemporary set of folkways.