Pusher – Unraveling the Existential Layers of Companionship and Identity

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for alt-J's Pusher at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. A Prism of Human Emotion: Interpreting the Rainbow Metaphor
  5. The Push and Pull of Love: A Tug-of-War Within
  6. Underneath the Canopy: The Natural World in ‘Pusher’
  7. Unveiled Secrets: The Hidden Meanings in ‘Pusher’
  8. Memorable Lines: ‘Pusher’ and Its Lyrical Echoes


If you’re willing to wait for the love of your life
Please wait by the line
And you know dispersive prisms rainbow
But my native optimism isn’t broken by the light

The idea of life without company fell suddenly
It crashed through the ceiling on me
And pinned me to the pine
And layer upon layer of hope and doubt
Will crush bones to oil in time

Are you a pusher or are you a puller?
I pull the weight towards me
And I lack the zest of a lemon, looking forward
Unless I have a woman pushing me

A canopy of red-billed quelea
Passed over the blue
A five hour flock, not one dives down
To tell you the truth

As night falls, a quelea crawls
And whispers on his last wings
So abundant are we, left alone I shall be
But a waited phone never rings

Are you a pusher or are you a puller?
I pull the weight towards me
And I lack the zest of a lemon, looking forward
Unless I have a woman pushing me

Are you a pusher or are you a puller?
We could hold hands for fifteen minutes in the sauna
We could hold hands for a pool length under water
I can push and pull

If you’re willing to wait for the love of your life
Please wait by the line

Full Lyrics

With a cerebral blend of indie rock and folktronica, alt-J has positioned themselves as modern-day poets of the music industry, often weaving intricate tapestries of sound and syllable into creations that do more than simply entertain; they challenge the listener to peel back the layers and find the deeper significance hidden within. ‘Pusher,’ a track from their critically acclaimed album, has generated considerable intrigue amongst fans and critics alike.

The poignancy of ‘Pusher’ lies in its hauntingly beautiful lyricism and the subtle complexity it reveals about human nature, companionship, and self-perception. This analysis seeks to divine the essence of a track that unfolds like a riddle wrapped in a mystery, and to offer a perspective that allows listeners to lean into the wisdom of alt-J’s articulate musings.

A Prism of Human Emotion: Interpreting the Rainbow Metaphor

The opening lines of ‘Pusher’ paint a vivid picture of light fragmented into a spectrum of colors, signifying the multifaceted nature of human feelings. The optimism mentioned is not simply naive positivity, but a kind of innate hopefulness that persists even when reality seems bleak. This lyrical gesture points towards the looming question of how and why we maintain hope in the face of loneliness and despair, a theme that resonates deeply within the human experience.

In laying bare such vulnerability, alt-J refracts their message through the prism of songwriting, creating space for listeners to encounter their own reflections within the hues of the music. It’s not just optimism that shines through this rainbow; it’s also an understanding of resilience, a testament to the inner light that can endure the dimming effects of a sometimes harsh world.

The Push and Pull of Love: A Tug-of-War Within

The chorus asks, ‘Are you a pusher or are you a puller?’ This dichotomy is essential in unraveling the song’s themes, examining the dynamics of how we interact with the forces of love and desire. To be a ‘pusher’ might imply exerting force upon the world to create change, while a ‘puller’ may more passively draw experiences and people towards themselves. alt-J posits this question not just to the listener, but also to themselves, revealing a striking self-examination of their role in relationships.

When the song voices a lack of ‘zest,’ there’s a candid admission of needing another—a woman in the song’s context—to motivate one’s movement through life. This interplay between dependence and independence in romantic entanglements threads through the track, portraying the complexity of desire as both an intimate dance and a solitary sojourn.

Underneath the Canopy: The Natural World in ‘Pusher’

The vivid imagery of a ‘canopy of red-billed quelea’ is an unexpected twist in the song’s narrative, inviting metaphors from nature to participate in the storytelling. The quelea, one of the most abundant bird species, sweeps across the sky in a transitory yet infinite loop, none daring to breakaway. This serves as an allusion to the human condition, reflecting the tension between our need for the collective and our yearnings for individuality and connection.

Moreover, the flight of the quelea against the backdrop of the sky symbolizes freedom but also a certain stuckness, a reluctance to dive into the unknown for fear of losing the safety of the flock. In such naturalistic allegory, alt-J captures a snapshot of life’s paradox, the simultaneous desire to belong and the fear of becoming isolated amidst the crowd.

Unveiled Secrets: The Hidden Meanings in ‘Pusher’

At its heart, ‘Pusher’ is a mosaic of existential quandaries, each line embedding secret signs that beg for decryption. The repeated inquiry about being a pusher or a puller evolves into a broader meditation on identity, purpose, and directionality in life. It speaks to the unspoken forces that shape our journeys, whether they be societal pressures, internal drives, or the opaque hand of fate.

Detecting the hidden meanings requires peering into the interstices of the lyrics, contemplating their resonances and contradictions. The stark imagery of ‘a waited phone never rings’ captures the quintessence of expectation and the quiet despair of hope unmet. alt-J has masterfully constructed a hymn of human longing, wrapped in the enigmatic shroud of their poetic craft.

Memorable Lines: ‘Pusher’ and Its Lyrical Echoes

Every song has that one line that resonates, that echoes in the mind long after the music has stopped playing. In ‘Pusher,’ it is the poignant refrain of ‘I can push and pull her.’ This line, expressed with an almost fragile intensity, captures a lover’s paradoxical ability to exert influence and yet remain at the mercy of love’s whims.

The repetition of this line augments its power, cementing it as the emotional nucleus of the song. Here, alt-J encapsulates the give and take of relationships, the silent negotiations, and the tug-of-war we face within ourselves and with those we hold dear. It is a line that holds within it the weight of human connection, perfectly balanced between control and surrender, and it is this paradox that etches ‘Pusher’ into the hearts of its listeners with unassuming grace.

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