Unlocking your true potential
Somewhat surprisingly, Nicky Wire seems to have become the embodiment of the element of surprise in the Manics these days. Once the guy who self-degraded his musical abilities with every chance he could get and who sometimes left the recording of his chosen instrument to James’ hands, ever since creating his solo album and then subsequently writing the band’s biggest hit in the recent years with Your Love Alone Is Not Enough Wire’s started to offer his writing pen to the Manics’ music more and more and the results have been staggeringly good, and acts as the member who’s most interested in thinking outside the usual box.
And then we get these. I’m tempted to say ‘as a flipside to that’ or prefacing a sentence or paragraph with ‘unfortunately’, but it’d feel like a lie despite that I find it hard to actually find a praising word for Engage With Your Shadow either. It is the first Manics song I’ve heard that has left me completely baffled. It is… what it is.
And what it is is Wire croaking some form of an incoherent anti-technology(!?) rant (complete with repetetive mantras that make sure the words ‘engage with your shadow’ and ‘unlocking your true potential’ are forever imprinted to your mind) over a hard-hitting, monotonous electronic beat and dischordant guitar noise, for three and a half minutes. Which doesn’t read like a long length but sounds far longer than it actually is when you’re faced with a song that sounds this confrontational. It’s almost as if Wire knew that this was going to get a dodgy reputation among the fans (already regarded as one of the worst songs put out under the Manics name!) and decided to just up the ante of the song for additional laughs. It’s not abrasive, experimental or in any way anything any music fan of today hasn’t heard before – it simply sounds like all it wants to do is be a nuisance and something you can hate and it’s loving it.
But as I said, I’m baffled. I’m not hating it. I’m not liking it either. It’s not mediocre. It’s… something else. It just is. It always jumps out like a sharp nail when it appears on the tracklist or shuffle, but it’s oddly compelling to listen. Almost hypnotic.
It’s Engage With Your Shadow.
As a final note, the sequencing on the Postcards From the Young Man single issue this is on is ingeniusly done as the music moves from this to the extremely melodic and warm Kiss My Eyes for Eternity.