Quiet moments are all that remains
I guess it’s impossible not to mention the Beatles-vibe of this – no one really seems to gather why but everyone always mentions how I’m Leaving You for Solitude reminds them of The Beatles. There is a certain timeless quality to this – not only does it sound like it could have been unearthed in any of the past six or so decades, but it sounds completely timeless in the Manics back catalogue as well. You can hear hints of several eras in it but there’s no single period – including the one it’s from – that fits it perfectly.
Perhaps it’s this status of a musical anomaly that makes it sound so enchanting. There’s a freshness around the song, a band trying their hands at something a bit different but still firmly holding their feet down on what makes Manics the Manics. All the familiar elements are there, especially the elegiac beauty and upbeat melancholy that the band does so well, but one can easily say they’ve never done a calm stomp like this before. There’s a marvellous calmness to it as well, an aura of a relaxed band simply sitting down and playing something.
Of course, part of its charm is probably in its sheer insane catchiness. It’s a really, really simple song and Sean probably delivers his most simpleton drumbeat ever in the monotonous pounding and because of that, it’s bound to stay in your head for ages. The vocal melody and minimal harmonies in the chorus are another killer strike. It’s probably too simplistic to the point of inane for some but the way it’s married to the elegant instrumentation, most notably the acoustic guitar, appeals to me in some fascinating way. It simply sounds wonderful.
Plus, it offers some of Wire’s best lyrics in the past few albums. Introspectiveness is what Wire has always done best and the lyrics for Solitude are completely devoid of any of the massive clunkers he’s bogged down his lyrics with in the recent years. Just like the song that comes in simply, states what it is and then proceeds to charm with it, Wire’s lyrics are unencumbered by any desire to strike out or be extraordinarily fancy. And as a result of that, the words are a cohesive whole of understated moodiness that works.
Solitude would probably never work on an album because of its nature – it just seems to act as a brickwall to anything outside itself so it can merrily pound along for its length, and as such would be really abrasive in any sort of longer context – but as a b-side it still feels a bit wasted. A very lovely song.