We’ve realised there’s no going back
It was a cold, crispy day. Early winter. There were still a few days left until Lifeblood’s release date. I was hyped up. It was the first new Manic Street Preachers studio album that would be released when I was a fan. I was browsing the net and happened to read a bunch of Finnish fans saying how they had already managed to buy the album. In that same instant I quickly gathered the money I had been holding onto for months just in preparation for buying this album and quickly walked into the store. And there it was.
I put the disc in my CD player. My mother was cleaning the house downstairs. Later on she asked what had happened as she heard a loud thumping noise from upstairs. I quickly lied that I had fallen on my chair as I had stood on it while trying to reach for something up high on my shelves. I was embarrased to tell the truth. The real reason was that I was so mesmerised and overjoyed over the sounds I heard from my CD player as the first chorus of 1985 stormed in the airwaves that I literally danced and jumped around the room. I was ecstatic.
1985 is my second favourite MSP song. It is my favourite cut from Lifeblood which is a difficult thing to say from an album full of unbelieveably amazing songs but I have to come to terms with it. It’s the perfect opener, not only in general but specifically to the album as well. And it’s musically perfect in every single way. The chorus is one of the very greatest choruses ever made. Fitting to the 80’s theme, the sound takes great inspiration from New Order in its almost synthesized tone. James’ vocals are multilayered brilliantly to enhance the sound.
Lyrically 1985 is a look back to the band’s past. 1985 was the year when the idea of forming a band first came to fruition and things started to roll. It’s got its nostalgic, happy overtones – “Morrissey and Marr gave me choice” – but the overall feeling is bittersweet and sad. “In 1985/I placed a bet and lied/Losing all that I had/At least with all my heart intact”. Like a lot of Lifeblood, 1985 is about loss – this time youth and time. But at the same time there’s a desire to go relive the innocent days again. Bittersweet once again – “we’ve realised there’s no going back” indeed.
1985 was pretty much the fan choice for a single and everyone was gravely disappointed when it never happened. The band themselves are obviously fond of it – it’s the only Lifeblood track to ever make appearances anymore (and even those are insanely rare) and it was one of the few songs which got a Patrick Jones directed video.
One would think that with all the studio enhancement the song would tremendously suffer when played live, but think again. The song heavily uses backing tracks but they work absolutely brilliant with the more organic sound – rather than imitating the album version, the additional elements simply flavour the live sound. At the same time James’ voice is almost reserved in the chorus, giving it a weird calmness.