Lyric Riffs

Jan 19, 2017

Will we ever get it right?/Keep looking for a sign tonight/But I guess it’s time, I’m doubled up/And doubled down again

from Gold lyrics by Iggy Pop

Wearing the charming mask of a worn-out songwriter, the Iguana embraces deepness and graveness as he escorts Matthew McConaughey’s character in his latest movie, Gold. The namesake song, which got him his first Grammy nomination, is a vision of exotic morbidness, but not a journey into it, as Iggy’s cynic detachment is evident and indispensable, seeing how much higher his throne remains; [LISTEN].

Jan 19, 2017

Woman, I make war to you/If you give a fuck enough, you’ll make war too/God damn, is this routine to you?

from Make War lyrics by From First To Last

Skrillex’s clickbait reunion with his high school band is tasteless as expected. The new single of the post-hardcore group also features Travis Barker on the drums, and sounds as if it was released in the mid-aughts, in spite of all that happened in the past ten years. Sonny’s words ooze with partially updated Myspace aesthetics, while his anachronistic haughtiness gets very close to misogyny.

Jan 19, 2017

Change is slow, always has been, always will be/But fuck that, I’ma bust back ’til they kill me/Change is slow, always has been, always will be/But fuck that, I’ma bust back until they kill me, feel me?

from High for Hours lyrics by J. Cole

The title is slightly misleading but makes sense by song’s end. He’s ascending to new heights and while he’s reluctant to come back down to Earth he can’t help but feel responsible for those left behind. The temptation is to grandstand and be overtly didactic, but he comes with the realness, including a moment where he grills the POTUS. A glowing example of relentless patriotism.

Jan 19, 2017

And my old friends, I can remember when/You cut your hair/We never saw you again/Now the cities we live in/Could be distant stars/And I search for you/In every passing car

from Suburban War lyrics by Arcade Fire

Growth and identity intertweave their paths in the Québécois suburbs. Growing up is growing apart in the tribal rite that is adolescence. And while through the years some have betrayed the place where they were born, often under the promises of big city lights, Win Butler refuses to forget and romanticizes each and every street, no matter how distantly monotonous they have become.

Jan 19, 2017

Everybody got a pistol, everybody got a .45/And the philosophy seem to be/At least as near as I can see/When other folks give up theirs, I’ll give up mine

from Gun lyrics by Gil Scott-Heron

The mighty one rears back and tackles gun violence head on; the perpetual cycle and a few of the key causes. He’s zeroing in on the culture of violence and the need to protect oneself in a so-called civilization. The funk slams in from the very beginning and doesn’t relent, bowling forward like a tidal wave. He’s an OG rapper, breaking down society’s ills with deft precision; [LISTEN].

Jan 19, 2017

They will see us waving from such great heights/’Come down now’/They’ll say/But everything looks perfect from far away

from Such Great Heights lyrics by The Postal Service

In this electro-indie classic, Ben Gibbard manages to romantically confess his love without becoming too cheesy. It’s a love that reaches an almost scientific perfection — or even mechanic, like the video suggests — rather than a religious one. However, even when he vents about such love, he does it in such a catchy and tentalizing way that it’s something we’re willing to admire rather than envy.

Jan 19, 2017

He’s wearing your clothes/Head down to toes, a reaction to you/You say you know what he did/But you idiot kid, you don’t have a clue

from Needle in the Hay lyrics by Elliott Smith

Perhaps the most bleakly beautiful song ever written about heroin, and there are a lot of them! The sparse instrumentation — with just acoustic guitar fingerpicked with a slow-roll palpitating neurosis and Smith’s characteristic soft, near-whispered vocals — is the perfect vehicle to tell the story of a tortured soul who’s turned to heroin to fight the demons from their past; [LISTEN].

Jan 18, 2017

Your silhouette in high top sneakers/And hardcore from laptop speakers/The classics to the more obscure/From Minor Threat to your old roommate’s band

from After the Party lyrics by The Menzingers

The Philly quartet have always favored the minutiae in the telling of their throaty, Against Me!-era stories rather than draw the whole picture. In the title-track off LP5, After the Party, they attempt to capture “the excitement of falling in love that language often misses,” in this case occasionally blurred out by alcohol, but always meaningful. It’s as personal and inclusive as punk should be.

Jan 18, 2017

Oh and/If I start to tell you anything, please don’t pay attention/That’s not really me in there, I would never do that/Just go back to the idea of me

from The Idea of You lyrics by Nine Inch Nails

Another classic angsty Nine Inch Nails track from comebacker EP Not the Actual Events. Just when you think it’s got no legs, it kicks in with the kind of satisfyingly stompy industrial rock chorus you’d expect from ever-evolving curmudgeon Trent Reznor, touching on how sometimes the idea that you have of someone in your head is different from — and possibly better than — the reality; [LISTEN].

Jan 18, 2017

Pulled out of the hood Toyota/Drove back to the hood Lambo/Crushed xans, crushed xans in my soda/Riding around the city with my eyes closed

from BIebs in the Trap lyrics by Travis Scott

The sound of the rich getting richer, a grisly ode to the iridescent rap lifestyle. Cash, drugs and women rain in from the sky leaving in its wake a trashed hotel room full of regrets and empty dreams. He’s reveling in the moment, inspired by commonplace ideas and themes. The shiny objects and plastic people are obstructing his vision, having him running in circles squawking about nothing at all.


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