Oh my god, I’m being serious
Good ol’ Manics self-deprecation. This time it’s tongue-in-cheek though, which is a good thing. One can’t help but find it somewhat amusing how this song finds its release during the National Treasures era: the era is all about celebrating the band’s history, and wonderfully to accompany all that there’s a dry lyrical eyeroll at the rock and roll bravour. It’s not really one of Wire’s greatest lyrical achievements admittedly but as it’s relayed through Wire’s own sneery singing, the text gets through as the sort of lovingly poking jab (with a healthy dose of your usual Wiresque introspectiveness) it was meant to be.
There’s actually a great deal of the feel of Wire’s own solo album here with the same dry commentary and the same self-poking introspectiveness that I Killed the Zeitgeist had across its tracks. This feel also extends to the rest of the song. After the Send Away the Tigers period we’ve seen a humongous growth in Wire’s songwriting and he’s become a genuine musical part of the band whose work can proudly be displayed on the albums themselves rather than always relegating them as b-sides. Rock n Roll Genius steps away from all his new meddlings with sophisticated pop and the slight experimental nature that crops up here and there, and instead moves back to the ramshackle rock of the solo days. Not that there’s anything wrong with that: arguably Wire’s better-composed songs work better when sung by James’ more trained voice, while his own ragged rambling suits a more chaotic, lo-fi type of music.
It’s not a particularly excellent or noteworthy song – it does have some surprisingly catchy quality and the organ sound that pops up after the choruses is rather great, but Wire’s done this sort of thing better before and better, and it’s a far shot from anything essential. It comes across slightly as his equivalent to James’ b-side filler acoustic solo moments, albeit a far more interesting equivalent these days. But it’s good to see some occasional light-heartnedness crop up in the Manics catalogue every now and then amidst all the earnestness. It nicely rounds their musical personality to match their interview ones.