Build bridges and not roads
Lifeblood’s rock moment. A rush of swirling guitar jangles, choirs of keyboards wailing on the background, James’ desperate yelps and Sean’s manic drumming. One of the best guitar riffs James has created and especially the way it’s been given the haunting echo treatment lifts it up even more.
On the otherwise downbeat and mid-tempo Lifeblood, To Repel Ghosts really shakes things up. Sound-wise however it’s clearly a part of the same album. I’m not talking just about the clear, ice cold production but the everpresent ache in the music. While the verses are calmly collected, the chorus explodes into waves of released pain and liberated energy: “a soul in pain has no image to reclaim”. The lyrics in general are great: the realisation that when something finally makes you see things clearly, it might not be what you want it to be. Add the general air of desperate loss so prevalent on the album. The middle eight lyrics – “build bridges and not roads/make love, make hate, make war” are some of the best-positioned lyrics in the Manicsverse in the sense of their weight and their musical placement. Just a few short and damn effective one-two punch of a lines in small, slow break before bursting into sound again.
And oh man those backing vocals.
I simply cannot praise To Repel Ghosts’ soundworld enough. The icy chime of the sparkling guitar melody and the layers and layers of ethereal keyboard textures are such a massive splendour to hear. On an album full of sonical moments, it’s easily one of the most gorgeus ones.
Another ridiculous Manics thing however – it’s the song that’s probably the best suited for a live environment on the entire album, yet it got played exactly twice, once in a proper concert and once in a small live studio gig. The studio live version sounds absolutely phenomenal, adding an urgent, more natural force among the eery layers. What a loss of a brilliant live song.