Reviewing Chevelle songs is always a bit of an adventure when it comes to interpreting lyrics. That's because this veteran alt-metal trio has long excelled at painting impressionistic swooshes and swathes that sometimes obliquely hint at potential meanings.
And if the lyrics to the band's latest hit, "Face to the Floor," were all we had to go on, we'd be in similar territory once again. In this case, however, the accompanying video, paired with a pretty straightforward explanation from the band, provide more clarity than we sometimes get.
The song begins in typical Chevelle fashion, which is to say with brooding and ominous but undefined suggestions that all is not well. "To pick up the tip doesn't mean a lot," we hear in the first line. "Fiddle inside your drawers/If we own the night then spread it out/Or pack up without a clue."
Indeed, by the end of that first verse, the only thing we know for sure as that we do, in fact, need some more clues to figure out what's going on here. And then we finally get one in the fourth verse, where we hear, "Pay up, never wait 'em out/Clever Madoff take it all/Your mouth blessed/Take 'em all the way right back down."
Ahh, now we're getting somewhere. Whatever else it may be about, "Face to the Floor" seems to be dealing with big-time swindlers and the world they thrive in.
Throughout the song, we hear the refrain, "Like your face being forced to the floor." Apply that to white collar criminal Bernie Madoff himself (and his arrest) or the feelings of his victims, and we start to get the point: It's a serious matter when a con man steals from those who've put their trust in him.
Now add the band's own words to mix. In an interview with Texas radio station KEYJ last October, members characterized the track as a "p‑‑‑ed off, angry song about people who got taken by the Ponzi scheme that Bernie Madoff had for all those years."
And the video expands on that. We see the band performing in front of a large screen showing headlines and tickers from Fox News. "Stock Markets Crash: Major Sell Off" says one opening subject line. Then a series of repeated words scrolls across the screen: "Floor. Change. Fair. Wrong. Live. Madoff. Greed. Corruption. Pain. Wealth. Poverty. Rise. Fail. Fight. Wall Street."
"Clueless/Mess/Pay up, never take it all/Take it all," lead singer Pete Loeffler rants. OK. Now it makes perfect sense.