Epic human achievement at last
More or less a Manics track, with music by Bradfield and words by Wire. All it needs is Sean’s drumming and you’d have an official Manics track.
Perhaps it’s because of the different lyricist but Bad Boys and Painkillers is one of the songs on The Great Western that would’ve needed very little adaptation to fit into the Manics catalogue. Naturally the lyrics affect it due to the band’s continued self-emphasis on them – the more abstract lyrical imagery instead of James’ more direct approach sets it apart from the rest of The Great Western’s material. But there is a heavy musical ‘influence’ (can you say this from Bradders’ solo material in comparison to Manics?) as well. The airy, fluttering verses are more in touch with the lighter touch of the album but the choruses are vintage Manics: gigantic sound wall, layered in the later-Manics fashion, James’ traditional belting. A bit more emphasis on the backing vocals but otherwise it’s a classics Manics chorus. The middle eight could be lifted from any Manics song stylistically.
Bad Boys and Painkillers was one of my favourite standouts from the album in the initial listens because of that masterfully strong chorus and it continues to held a bit of a favourite position despite that those choruses tend to overshadow the verses. From the second chorus onwards it’s joy though, through the middle-eight to the amped-up final chorus and finally the main highlight – the excellent outro that introduces a small piano figure and removes all vocals but the background ones. One of those endings that really crown a good song to a great one.