What does "Alligator" by Of Monsters and Men mean?
“Alligator” Lyrics Meaning
Of Monsters and Men’s new single “Alligator” carries the confusing yet beautiful tone the narrator experiences during her emotional awakening. Though the narrative is vague and disjointed, the song’s story appears to be written from the perspective of an “Alligator” who is laid in the river as her final resting place, only to be brought back to life as she is in her element for the first time. This resurrection causes her to confront the wildness inside of her and come to terms with her true identity as she lets go of the fear of accepting it. The story is told in non-linear style, and as a result, the narrative is impossible to sense until the second verse. This withholding of information helps the listener to experience feelings of wonder and uncertainty similar to the narrator, enabling a deeper sense of connection to the song.
“I’m fever dreaming”
The disjointed images and sounds described in “Alligator” place an emphasis on emotion and perception over the external world. The entire song is written from the perspective of someone who is in the midst of an experience made up almost purely of emotional intensity. This song is heavy in repetition and has a vague narrative, which is a strong indication that it leans on its musical beauty and uses the lyrics as an abstract tool of expression, much like the colorful lyric video that accompanies “Alligator.”
I see colour raining down
Feral feeling, swaying sound
But I don’t know what you want
I am open and I am restless
Let me feel it out, let it all come out
The narrator sees “color raining down,” painting a picture of unprecedented and unusual positive circumstances. Along with the colors comes a “feral feeling and “swaying sound. The unique experience is sensory and inspires an untamed, wild emotion in the one experiencing it. Though the narrator is confused by the expectations of the abstract presence placing her in the midst of this beauty, and doesn't “know what [it] want[s]” she knows that she is “restless” and needs to “feel it out” in order to understand what is happening. In this freedom she experiences, she feels that she can “let it all come out,” and wants to take a moment to allow everything inside of her to be released.
Wake me up
I’m fever dreaming
And now I lose control
I'm fever dreaming
Shake it out
It's just what I'm feeling
And now I take control
I'm fever dreaming
The newfound freedom to “let it all come out” is frightening to the narrator and she asks to be woken up from her “fever dreaming” where she is “los[ing] control.” It scares her at first, and she wants to “shake it out” and be free from her emotions. She realizes that it’s all right that it’s “just what [she’s] feeling” and with the acceptance of the newly awakened feelings she is able to “take control” over herself.
Oh so quiet when they laid me in the stream
And the starlit sky grew before my eyes
Twenty-two women stood by the banks and cried
Verse 2 is the only place in the song where the narrator looks outward to the surrounding world and focuses on concrete details rather than emotions and the abstract. Unlike the rest of the song, which describes things currently taking place, verse 2 is about events that have already passed. Before the narrator experienced this dream of awakening, she was “laid in the stream” as the “starlit sky grew before [her] eyes.” A funeral was held for her in somber stillness as “twenty-two women stood by the banks and cried” for her.
The most likely interpretation of this is that while everyone believes that the narrator has died, once she is placed in the water she comes back to life, because it is her home. Alligators thrive in rivers. If the narrator is an alligator as the title of the song suggests, it would indicate that the premise of the song is built on the idea that the very thing that was meant to signify the spiritual or emotional death of the narrator actually brought on her awakening.
Deeper Meaning of “Alligator” by Of Monsters and Men
While “Alligator” is an abstract song lyrically, it is not at all void of meaning. The lyrics paint a picture of the inner struggle between fear of the unknown inside of us and the acceptance of what we may uncover. That journey is communicated powerfully as the lyrics partner with both the music and vocals. Through the subtle narrative told primarily through emotions, Of Monsters and Men have given a song of victory over uncertainty and fear to their listeners. “Alligator” is the moment of triumph over one’s fear, frozen in time, and communicated in a kaleidoscope-esque fashion to remind us of what it feels like when we push off into the unknown in spite of our fear, in hope of something better.