Anything to sidestep a reason to believe
Distractions joins the small but grand squad of Manics having plain fun, populated formerly by the likes of eg First Republic and Virginia State Epileptic Colony. All are songs with if not serious than at least heavily issue-based lyrics but rather than ranting on about them with angry guitar riffs and whatnot, they’re backed by a sound that’s impossible not to smile to. They have a strain of controlled whimsicality in them, a giddiness that doesn’t go out of control and turn the whole thing into a laugh – it simply draws a massive smile on your face with the feel-good rock and roll vibe.
Distractions is a massively enjoyable song. Wire rants about the distractive way of modern technology (aw, bless) which would be cringy if it wasn’t married with such a tongue-in-cheek happy backing. James goes back to the near-rhythmless machine gun singing tactics he has used a great deal in ranty songs in the past but this time it sounds like the man is enjoying himself to the max. And it’s ridiculously singalongy!
Musically Distractions is composed of rather simple ingredients but which manages to pack a whole load of Moments within it. The keyboard pattern of the 2nd verse, the tom-heavy middle-eight, guitar solo and the eventual explosion back into the rest of the song are all actual ace moments. The dominating star is the before-mentioned vocal stylings adapted in the verse but like its counterparts in the Manics history Distractions doesn’t just rely on the upbeat atmosphere to sound fun; it employs a vast amount of small touches in the compositional and instrumental parts of the song to give a sense of vibrant life loving itself to bits.
They may be primarily serious musicians and their best moments are shrouded in melancholy, but it’s good to hear the band just having a grand ol’ good time in the studio every now and then. It’s heartwarmingly happy. Distractions is a special little b-side because it’s fun.