“Cradles” shakes up the idea of alternative rock

“Cradles” album cover on Apple Music

A toy piano is the last instrument one would expect to hear in an alternative rock song. Written by Danny Maisonneuve, Sub Urban’s 2019 release “Cradles” features an interesting combination of a slightly off-putting beat reminiscent of a Tim Burton film, lyrics that make the listener pause, a toy piano, video game coin-collection sounds, and a relevant message to convey to modern audiences.

     Lyrics like “I see the world through eyes covered in ink and bleach / Cross out the ones who heard my cries and watched me weep” and the final lines “Got dirty little lullabies playing on repeat / Might as well rot around the nursery and count sheep” stand out in comparison to other alternative rock songs. The chorus also keeps up the unusual themes seen throughout the rest of the song, “I love everything / Fire spreading all around my room / My world’s so bright / It’s hard to breathe but that’s alright / Hush,” and it is immediately followed by a toy piano solo. 

An Upright Toy Piano by Bill Jacobus via Wikimedia Commons

     So what is the artist trying to say with all these strange lyrics and stylistic choices? The answer changes from verse to verse, according to Laviasco.com’s synopsis. The overall theme, though, is methods for dealing with life’s problems. 

Even though the flames are spreading, everything is fine within his own little world. 

     The first verse talks about how people often retreat to their own personal realities when strife arises, and the chorus then emphasizes this point by using ‘fire’ as a metaphor for life’s hardships and saying that, even though the flames are spreading, everything is fine within his own little world. 

     The second verse talks about society’s response. People are often forced to face reality and that chaos can make people feel insecure or that they have no control over their own life. The final verse comments on human nature with the lines “Devils hide behind redemption / Honesty is a one-way gate to hell.” The previous pair of lines comment on human interaction. The singer enjoys talking to people whom he can “taste [their] content.”

     In the outro, the singer points out that he “just [wants to] be carefree.” He mentions that he’s lucky to be where he is — he’s got “one too many quarters in [his] pocket” — before transitioning to a rather cryptic ending that appears to refer to high-dose prescriptions causing sleeping during school and insomnia growing up.

     These ideas are fairly easy to see in the lyrics, aside from those final four lines, and the artist intends his message for a very modern-day audience. The work goes against current musical conventions in the same way that the lyrics seemingly go against societal norms.

     For those looking for a different take on alternative rock, Sub Urban may just have what they’re looking for. Even those who are looking for something like that, as the lyrics say, “It’s music till the wick burns out.”

The Official Music Video for Cradles on Youtube

Author: Tucker Wurman '20

Tucker Wurman '20 writes as a part of the journalism seminar. He's a student who has no real specific disciplinary focus, but takes classes across math, science, history, foreign languages, and English in equal measure. That doesn't stop him from being interested in mostly math and computer science for career options, though.