Civilization takes up many forms / Usually disguised and fatally flawed
Spaghetti western electro rock. No, really.
Red Rubber reminds me of the Know Your Enemy era. Not stylistically – it really doesn’t remind any other song of theirs musically – but because that was the time of Manics giving a new surprise every corner. You had no idea what the b-sides would sound like – hell, you had no idea what on earth would turn up next on the album either. To hear the band going a bit creatively crazy again in this season of them playing a bit safe is rather giddy.
There’s more than just the concept to be excited about as well. Red Rubber is the bastard child of a Western film theme tune and a synthesizer/drum-machine driven rocker – Ennio Morricone meets Kasabian, or something. And it sounds great. The Western parts are filled with some gorgeous guitar and keyboard work, whilst the rocking bits are some of the best rocking bits of the Postcards era. The main drawback is that it’s way, way too damn short: it clocks in at three minutes and feels like it ends halfway through, after only two verses and two choruses. The band’s desire to keep their songs short these days is really getting on my nerves. Still – those three minutes sound damn good and provide some minor excitement due to seeing them go a bit crazy again. I wouldn’t want them to ape Red Rubber’s style for the duration of a whole album, but some bonafide Manics rocking with some nifty synthesizer work could really work as a direction.
The song is about Leopold II’s violent colonisation of central Africa, and in fact borrows the chorus lyrics from the title of a documentary about it (White King, Red Rubber, Black Death).