Alex G and the Femme Fatale

todayNovember 14, 2022 45

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Gilian Prado

Music Journalist

A good friend of mine (Saidif) had recommended the artist Alex G to me and showed me some songs, deep cuts and the artist stayed on my radar. Later I stumbled across their song entitled Mary. As someone who is into post punk fast paced, garage rock, angsty and full of vigor music, this track was not something that would normally become a song id listen to semi frequently, yet it did. Despite its slow tempo and soft breathy vocals it caught my attention.

The song starts off with a single note being held on the electric guitar and fuzzy sounding amps which give the feeling of a diy production. Then we have the melody on the electric guitar and the rhythmic part also being played on the electric guitar both on full volume neither giving way to the other. The rhythmic part then drops and we have the opening lines of the song

“Mary is the girl that I wanna kiss

She’s got big red eyes and big red lips

She’s got big sharp teeth and big fat hips”

Before we can understand these lines we must first understand the term “maneater” in the popular media and how its entwined with the femme fatale archetype. The traditional use for the term refers to a wild animal that has a propensity for killing humans. When “maneater” is used in reference to a woman it refers to a very attractive woman who has frequent male partners and discards them with a complete lack of emotion. Femme fatale is a seductive woman who disrupts a mans life, maneater and femme fatale are used interchangeably in media and society. The parallel to wild animal and heartbreaker is drawn here. We see Alex G state that this Mary girl is the girl he is romantically attracted to stating that he wants to kiss her. The following lines act as harsh contradiction to the sentiment prior, describing her as a person with big red eyes and big sharp teeth, Alex G is creating this animal imagery to solidify that the girl is a maneater. However, within those same lines he juxtaposes his previous description by describing her as having attractive features such big red lips and big fat hips meaning he sees the duality in her and he is still into her.

At this point the rhythmic guitar returns with a prominent strike of the guitar strings, just as loud matching the loudness of the melody.  The following lyrics are sung

“Mary is the girl that I wanna (expletive for intercourse)

She’s got a leather heart and leather gloves

She’s the only girl that I wanna love

By the inclusion of the said expletive we know that Alex is not only romantically attracted to Mary but also attracted to her on a deep physical level, again we see the lyrics contradict each other innocent love vs intercourse. We see that Alex is aware that she has a hardened heart by describing it as being made of leather, and we also see that femme fatale imagery is coming into play with the leather gloves. However, the lyrics end on a more sweet and romantic note with Alex stating that Mary is the only girl he wants to love. Along with the constant self-imposed juxtaposition in the lyrics one of the things that caught my attention is the fact that Alex G goes through a full spectrum of emotions in this song from simple romantic feelings to lust to love. At this point the song we get to a very interesting point musically the dynamics louden, and we see a sort of rock mimicry of counterpoint in this song with the two distinct melodic parts acting independently and at the same volume. This caught my attention because counterpoint is typically a technique used in classical music this effect only becomes stronger in the latter half of the song. Lyrically we are at the point where Alex is singing

“Listen to me, baby, I don’t mind

I wanna be with you and waste my time

Give it to me, baby, I feel good

I wanna feel whatever you think I should

Sing it for me, baby, play my song

I wanna hear your daddy sing along”

In these lines we see Alex G not only succumb and accept Mary for who she is but celebrate her and welcome her for all that she is. Alex seems to take a eager to please stance in this relationship stating that his feelings should be dictated by Mary and that he just wants to be with her. Alex also wants reciprocation in the relationship given that he’s a musician he wants Mary to not only play his song but for her dad to sing along to it as well, validating his musicianship and importance in the relationship.

The song then end with a slowing down of the tempo and change in vocal stylings, he starts melodically humming almost like a whine without the pain. The bass riff becomes significantly more pronounced like it was in the beginning. He then goes back to singing

“Mary is the girl that leaves you to rot

She says, “I am real, and you are not”

She says, “I am real, and you are not”

Unfortunately, Mary left Alex high and dry and even goes as far as to place her feelings over his by stating that she is real and he is not. Despite them breaking up and Mary leaving. The song is a story of a man seeing this femme fatale and cherishing the time they had together even though he was fully conscious it was in her nature to leave and still partaking in it. This track served as an exploration of what its like to be with such an archetype.

Written by: Jordan Young

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