Matt Maeson is well known for “Cringe,” his debut song. It quickly became wildly popular and rose to the top of the alternative rock charts. His music often reflects his upbringing in Norfolk. Interestingly, his parents were metalheads as well as staunch Christians.
What does the title mean
The title refers to one of the primary characteristics of the person singing the song. He seems to see himself as cringe worthy. The title suggests the kind of self-deprecation we often put ourselves through when something we’re going through makes us feel bad about ourselves.
The title might even be a deliberate reference to another rock anthem, the famous track “Creep” by Radiohead. Both songs indicate a strongly negative self-perception.
Verse 1 – What does it mean
“Lover come over
Look what I’ve done
I’ve been alone so long, I feel like I’m on the run
Lover come over, kick up the dust
I’ve got a secret starting to rust”
The opening line shows that the person is addressing his lover through the song, almost as though he’s writing a letter. He seems to be inviting the other person to come and witness the bad things he’s done.
The verse conveys a deep sense of loneliness and feeling like an outcast. He is someone on the run, almost as if someone or something is after him. These lines almost make it seem as though loneliness is a crime. If we think of popular films and TV shows, they often make it seem as though being alone is for ‘losers’. Popular culture constantly brainwashes us with the message that we must be partnered or have a lot of friends to feel good about ourselves. These lines show us the state of mind of a lonely person who constantly feels as though something is wrong with him.
The idea of a long-held secret is intriguing here. He has kept his secret for so long that it’s starting to rust.
What does the chorus mean
“She said I’m looking like a bad man, smooth criminal
She said my spirit doesn’t move like it did before
She said that I don’t look like me no more, no more
I said I’m just tired
She said: you’re just high
And I said I saw you in the water
And I said I saw you in the water”
The chorus almost makes it seem as though being a criminal is ‘cool’. These lines reveal the other person’s perception of him. She feels that he has changed drastically. He is so different now that he doesn’t even look like he used to.
One interpretation of these lines could be that they have broken up, and the loss of their relationship has transformed him into someone unrecognizable. There is a hint that he may have resorted to drugs to try to come to terms with his sadness and tiredness. It could also be that her perception of him is that he is drugged, but he’s actually just exhausted.
The repetition of the last line of the chorus seems to reinforce her view that he is high. To see someone in the water is not a common thing. These lines may be referring to a drug-induced hallucination.
Verse 2 – What does it mean
“Lover come hold me
Heads on the fritz
Gaudy intoxicated feelings comfortably mixed
Lover come hold me, could you forget
I’ve got a secret, digging a dent”
The idea of heads on the fritz seems to be a violent one, bringing to mind the image of severed heads. This verse also makes an enigmatic reference to the secret that was mentioned earlier. The listener is left to wonder whether the singer will ever reveal what the secret is.
The word “gaudy” may also be referring to a hallucinogenic condition. The song seems to leave it ambiguous whether he is actually high or just comes across as such.
In this verse, he asks his lover to hold him. This request is simultaneously sad and hopeful. It suggests that even if the person we love doesn’t return our feelings, just the thought that they might do so enables us to keep carrying on.
What does the bridge mean
“Sweating all your sins out
Putting all your thoughts back together
Oh, we just don’t blend now
All of my attempts seem to weather
Oh, I make you cringe now
Don’t I make you cringe?
Oh, I make you cringe now
Don’t I make you cringe?”
These lines tell us that he makes her cringe “now,” suggesting that he didn’t earlier. The song’s distinct sense of ambiguity carries through to this section. We are left wondering whether he is actually so cringe worthy. It’s possible that his self-perception is so strongly negative that he thinks she is cringing from him.
These lines also seem to support the interpretation that they used to be in a relationship but have broken up now. He says that they just don’t blend anymore. This situation seems to be a classic case of estranged lovers who can no longer see themselves or each other the way they used to. It almost seems as though love has turned sour.
This section vividly captures the emotions we feel when we yearn for something in the past that no longer exists in the present. It is said that sometimes our nostalgia for the past is so strong that the past feels more ‘present’ than the present time. This feeling is particularly strong when your ex has moved on from your relationship but you have not. These lines strongly reflect feelings of despair and inadequacy. They show us a glimpse into the mind of someone who is overwhelmed by feelings of loss, drifting on a sea of sadness. The pain feels even more acute because the other person doesn’t seem to feel it, exacerbating his loneliness and sense of heartbreak.
In many ways, this song is very relatable to anyone who has gone through a break up. It shows us a situation in which people who used to love each other are now like strangers. The same person who was in love with him now cringes from him. It is said that we love each other because of our flaws, not despite them. When a person stops loving another, all their flaws become very obvious. The very things that once seemed endearing about the other person are now cringe worthy.
The song also seems to indicate a powerful message about how our sense of self-worth is often connected to what other people think about us. Even though the relationship is over, he still hopes she will hold him and make his pain go away. All he can now see of himself are his flaws.
The song ends on a note of ambiguity. What is the secret that he kept referring to? The singer leaves us feeling that the song is incomplete. It thrives on a sense of fragmentation. Just as the singer is conflicted and fragmented, his song is incomplete. The song beautifully captures the desperation of loneliness. The singer is clinging to a hope that even he knows is unrealistic.