Speaking with AUX Magazine, Josh "Deakin" Dibb explained Noah "Panda Bear" Lennox's lyrical content on this track. "For a lot of the lyrics on the record," he said, "he wanted to spend more time looking outward than looking inward. This one's kind of about the frustration of trying to communicate with people. Well, for him it was about trying to deal with a car salesman, when he bought a bad car and had to deal with all this nightmare stuff. Just the frustration of complication between humans that should be like, "I'm a person, you're a person, can't we talk like human beings?"
Various examples of radio interference and white noise are dotted throughout Centipede Hz, reflecting the album-long exploration of technology. Deakin explained to AUX Magazine: "Making this album, we talked a lot about imagining an alien band, picking up broken radio frequencies from earth. All these scrambled different stations crossing over each other and cutting in and out, and imagining what it would be like if you were a band from an alien planet, hearing that stuff and trying to piece it together and re-interpret it. That was a way that we established an over-arching marker. 'Mercury Man' is a good example of that, the way the sounds move from part to part, and the sounds we were using fit that alien-band model better than any other song on the record."
Fall Out Boy's "The Kids Aren't Alright" song title is not a reference to The Offspring's 1998 single of the same name. It actually alludes to The Who's 1979 rockumentary film called The Kids Are Alright.