As any English teacher can tell you, there is a thin line between a good metaphor and a bad one that is either trite or confusing. Rock and roll is full of both of them, from Elvis Presley sneering, “You ain’t nothing but a hound dog” (penned by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller) to “Happy” Pharrell Williams confusingly declaring, “I’m a hot air balloon that could go to space.” I can’t tell if that’s a good thing or something terrible; wouldn’t one choke and die?
Vancouver pop-punk and Chief State directly address the use of “Metaphors” on their latest single/lyric video from their debut full-length album due out in 2022. The singer feels isolated and unhappy, on the verge of a mental breakdown because of his inability to communicate or accomplish anything. The music thrashes about and aurally recreates the confused thoughts of one unable to act or express oneself clearly. Using metaphors to communicate cloaks thoughts and hides emotions. The song provides a cry for help from someone who feels helpless and alone.
Band member Nik Pang puts it this way, “‘Metaphors’ is about being in a really dark place, but not knowing how to communicate that to your loved ones. Instead of saying what you mean, and exactly how you feel, it’s easy to gloss over it and be super generic and vague.” The song reveals the limits of language even as it relies on words mixed with music. It’s an act of defiance.