Always getting something wrong
Once you get over the fact that this is a Manics track with slap bass (a rather awesome slap bass at that) and your mind allows you to focus on the other parts of the music, you’ll realise that Always/Never is a much, much more complex song than you could hear on the first round, composed of countless tiny details that do a lot while being very little.
My absolute favourite is the electric guitar that’s constantly in the background though you wouldn’t hear it at all during the first few listens. In the verse it’s doing its little wah-wah-ish action, before leading the melody into the chorus in unison with the electric piano. In the chorus itself you’ve got that subtle high-pitched keyboard melody that adds a great deal to the high-rising atmosphere of the chorus. And finally on the second verse you’ve got the small but highly important keyboard melody that transforms the nature of the verse entirely.
The big details are amazing too though. The amazing synth wave constantly creating atmosphere throughout the track, the crystal clear acoustic guitar shining in the chorus, the rhythmic piano punctuations, the final guitar ‘solo’, James’ layered vocals, and so forth.
Also, bloody love the lyrics. The power of oblique, seemingly completely abstract lyrics which start to make sense when you start paying attention to them: self-defeat and self-loathing in a poetic, eternally contradicting form. Always/Never is lyrically experimental in the way that it’s the only Manics track where the music came first – from a random jam session – and lyrics were written for the track rather than music being fit to pre-existing lyrics like with all other Manics songs.
I love this one so much.