Arctic Monkeys - Crying Lightning
Review and Interpretation
The song can be found over on youtube -
Crying lightning is the first single released from the Arctic Monkey's latest album Humbug, and is produced by Josh Homme of "Queen's of the stone Age" fame. I'm going to assume you already know who the Arctic Monkey's are and jump straight into the review. The song begins with a really chunky bassline, which consists of plenty of slide's over some tasty drumming. Almost immediately the guitar's pitch in with a really dark and eerie sound, layered with heavy amount's of treble, that almost grate, but luckily stop just short and instead leave you feeling uneasy. It's not long more before Turner pipe's in with the opening lyric's
“Outside the cafe by the cracker factory,
you were practicing a magic trick,
and my thoughts got rude as you talked and chewed,
on the last of your pick and mix”
As alway's, my favorite thing about Alex Turner as a writer, is his ability to make relatable thing's such as running from the cop's, having an argument in the kitchen, or running away from home, sound totally extravagant. When I listen to rap music, the one thing that prevent's me from truly indulging myself in the music is that I can't identify myself with the subject matter. I can't say that I've ever capped somebody's ass, or killed some blood clot's, however I can say I've seen a girl working in a takeaway and thought “Hmm... I'd say she's look alright on a night out” or getting into a fight with bouncer's at a nightclub.
Also Turner's voice, while still essentially the same, seem's to have matured or maybe he's still in the process of finding the stuff that really make's his voice work, because I would easily say that his vocal work on Crying Lightning is by leap's and bound's his best performance to date. The song carries on with the lines:
“Said your mistaken if your thinking that I haven't been caught cold before
As you bit into your strawberry lace
And then a flip in your attention in the form of a gobstopper
Is all you have left and it was going to waste”
I love the fact that the song keep's using sweet's as a reference, when clearly the leading lady is anything but sweet. It's in the chorus that if we examine we start to discern more about her.
“Your past time's consisted of the strange and twisted and deranged,
And I love that little game you had, called Crying Lightning,
And how you liked to aggravate the Ice-Cream man on Rainy Afternoons.”
It's here that we begin to see that his lady isn't all sweet's and sunshine and we are left to wondering what this game, Crying Lightning is, however, it bring's to mind the idea of Crying Wolf, an idea reinforced later in the song. Also the lead character's opinion of this game changes throughout the song from “I love that little game” in the first chorus to “I hate that little game” in all subsequent choruse's. After the last line of the chorus, there is a pounding guitar riff, coupled with some nice drum's and it's a great break back to the second verse.
“The next time that I caught my own reflection,
It was on it's way to meet you,
Thinking of excuses to postpone,
You never look like yourself from the side,
But your profile did not hide,
The fact you knew I was approaching your throne”
The lady in the song, who I'm going to refer to as the queen, clearly has a very high opinion of herself or so the main character believes her to be as he consider's her to be occupying a throne, metaphorically of course. The lead character seem's to be trying to escape from this relationship, and maybe that's where the crying lightning come's into it. Maybe everytime he decide's to end the relationship she “Cry's Lightning”, in other word's cry's a storm, in the hope's of convincing him to stay. In this verse, I believe that he is confronting her and she know's about it. Next Scene:
“With folded arms you occupy the bench like toothache,
Saw them, puff your chest out like you never lost a war,
And though I try so not to suffer the indignity of a reaction,
There was no cracks to grasp or gaps to claw,”
I'm not going to lie this is the only section that I can't really discern much from. The first line screams to me that when she “Occupies the bench like Toothache” he mean's something that's very painful, but has to be removed. In the second line I get the impression that she is ready to “Cry Lightning”, if you will, and she's puffing her chest out in preperation, something the lead character can now anticipate. As for the last two line's I've thought long and hard and all I can guess is that he is trying not to react badly, and make a scene, but he is slipping down and there's nothing stopping him anymore. Now I could be totally wrong, this is just MY personal interpretation, but it seem's plausible, right?
After the second chorus we're treated to a switch in the lyric's for what could be considered, the third chorus -
But not half as impossible as everyone assumes,
You are crying lightning,”
I think that this section mean's that people find it impossible to believe that she could be faking her feeling's or “Crying Wolf/Lightning”. However the main character is now decided on how he feel's and he just out right say's “You are Crying Lightning”, indicating that he know's she's manipulating him and everyone around them.
That's pretty much the last of it lyrically, the only other stand out part I can think of is the very last line where he say's -
“And I hate that little game you had called, Crying...”
Which to most people would probably just be ending the song a word early for the heck of it, but I feel that at the very end he's trying to tell us that, maybe, just maybe, she was actually crying, and not just faking everything. Then again, it's a very interpretable song and other people might think that this theory is insane.
The solo is well constructed and has some great riffage and some nice break's in it. To be honest this song is the Arctic Monkey's most mature to date, with the lyrics still feeling relatable, even though they are so abstract, the music growing and feeling less like a homage to the member's favorite band's and really taking on their own personality, which had already begun to manifest itself heavily on “Favorite Worst Nightmare”. Love the Arctic's, or hate them, they will not be going anywhere for a long time if they keep writing material like “Crying Lightning”.
Summary: Alex Turner and crew deliver an eerie song, with some fantastic lyric's and top-notch music. Love them or Hate them, the Arctic Monkey's deliver a much needed distraction from the numerous song's nowadays about money, fame and glory, and instead write around the simple thing's in life, like, that girl who broke your heart, or being homesick. Crying Lightning, is in this reviewer's, humble opinion, an instant classic.
Please don't flame, or throw up useless comment's like
“I hate the Arctic Monkeys”,
If you hate the Arctic Monkey's then your opinion is obviously compromised and very one-sided.
Discuss if you like the song or not and why,
Will be uploading my review of Muse's Uprising soon...
Sexy Drug's and Sausage Roll's,