For the first time ever I don’t understand my television
And here you go. Part godknowswhat in our continuing series on why Manic Street Preachers are one of the best b-sides bands ever and my personal favourite in that respect.
This beautiful acoustic-driven pseudo-ballad is definitely one of the highlights of the entire Everything Must Go era. Musically by itself it’s not so special as the verses are slightly plain – it’s the choruses where things really kick off in that respect – but Sepia is all about performance, delivery and meaning. In other words, what Nicky has written and how James sings it. The lyrics are downright brilliant in their wistful and defeated melancholy. Yes it’s another Richey song but instead of harping on about it ages after he’s gone, Sepia’s a lyric borne relatively close to the disappearance event and catches Nicky during a very fragile moment. James interprets this perfectly, with just the right emotional charge that aches but never lets it overflow melodramatically. It’s a calm song and so’s the delivery fittingly. I especially love the way James sings the bridges as well as the rapid pace he shoots out the first line of the chorus, referencing the ambiguous ending of Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid – an unclear ending much like Richey’s.
One of the most emotionally naked Manics songs that shows us that at his best Wire’s brilliant and that James is the best possible person to interpret his lyrics.