And the scars you wore are just mirrors for ourselves
Japan’s got a tendency to have bonus tracks on Western albums in order to encourage the Japanese fans to buy them instead of importing the albums from other parts of the world for cheaper. Usually the bonus tracks are b-sides, either already released or songs the band would release as b-sides on one of their next singles. Sadly, Lifeblood’s promotion was cut so short that the two Japanese bonus tracks for the album never became as b-sides. Thus, they became rarities in an instant.
Antarctic is one of the two. Unlike most Lifeblood era tracks, Antarctic’s very guitar heavy. It’s not about riffing up or soloing out however. Instead it’s all about playful layers of James’ delicate guitar melodies. The picked melodies dance with eachother, the filtered and spaced out electric and the ice-cold acoustic toying with eachother. The rest of the song is entirely based on the guitar, offering a very downstated background to emphasise the six-stringers.
I love Antarctic lyrically. It’s carved from a completely different tree than any other Manics lyric and despite the emphasis on feelings on Lifeblood, it’s even different from the rest of the era’s tracks. Knowing Nicky it could be about anything but to my superficial deduction senses it’s very much a relationship song. Times passed, you’ve had your strifes and got over it, but finally it’s time to question where the feeling’s gone. Everything’s just cold and you long for the nostalgic memories. Yet the song still sounds upbeat thanks to the musical backing.
A hidden gem, moreso than a lot of other Manics tracks because of its limited release nature. And perhaps the ultimate Manics winter song though I admit the title and the ice-cool production are probably the reasons for that.