Nathaniel Paul’s “Turpentine” is one of those sneaky songs. You know the ones. They come on and you’re instantly transported to a technicolor dream world of your own imagination full of only good vibes™, but then when you actually take a second to listen to the lyrics you realize that the song is about much, much more.
Apart from immediately wondering if I was listening to Mac DeMarco, when I first heard the song after a chill night of chicken tendies and comfort TV (H2O anyone?), I felt myself relax even more into the depths of the couch. Maybe I was primed from watching a show about teenage mermaids in Australia, but the combination of mellow yet bright guitar riffs in a constant ascent and descent made me feel like I was laying on a beach waiting for a piña colada, listening to the crashing waves at my feet. The synesthetic soundscape of the song conjured colors and shapes in my mind that radiated warmth, comfort, and, I don’t know how else to say it, pure vibes.
The lyrics, on the other hand, beg to differ. Lines like “Take me off that assembly line” and “Had a life but left for dead” pierce through the veil of colored smoke, smacking you in the face with the reality that, no, you can’t just have a chill night without thinking about the horrors of capitalism. Paul’s lyrics directly explore and critique, “the state of homogeneity that has been created through the overconsumption of news, social media, and the internet at large,” and the song as a whole, “hopes to take a look at what we are going through as a culture.” In other words, I think we’ve discovered the chillest protest song that’s ever been written. The next time you want to sit and have a good think, turn on some color changing lights, grab a cup of tea, and give “Turpentine” a listen. You won’t regret it, but bring a comfort object just in case.