Released on: Gold Against the Soul (Album #2) Columbia Records, 14 June 1993
Also on: Life Becoming a Landslide E.P. (EP #2) Columbia Records, 7 February 1994
Richey Edwards’ first song-length treatise on the nature of love represents perhaps the apex of the exposure of his personal beliefs and concerns on Gold Against the Soul. ‘Life Becoming a Landslide’ is as clear an exposition on a part of the lyricist’s personal philosophy as the band would release before The Holy Bible, and is certainly more laden with graphic and emotive imagery than any other track on its parent album. From the description of a baby born screaming into the world to Edwards’ infamous line “my idea of love comes from / a childhood glimpse of pornography’, this song is a visceral tour de force on a number of levels.
The meaning of the song was discussed by Edwards who said:
…if you go into newsagents and see pornography on the shelves at an early age, it becomes very difficult to reconcile that with the idea of ‘love’ that you’re presented with later. I think we’re romantic people in some ways, but when it comes to relationships it’s not a question of ‘Can you trust another human being?’, so much as a question of trusting yourself. The animalistic nature of man seems to mean that you’re bound to find another people physically attractive. And there’s something dishonest about shutting those feelings off – it seems puritanical to deny yourself that. The idea of sin is still so widely pervading.
Bradfield’s impassioned cry of “I don’t wanna be a man” paves the way for the much later song [T111] ‘Born a Girl’, which carries a similar sentiment in greater detail (but was written by Wire).
In some ways, ‘Life Becoming a Landslide’ actually acts as the album’s centrepiece. This is partly to do with the theme and partly to do with the stylistic variety within the song, which drifts from acoustic introduction through chugging metal verses to anthemic climax. This mix of styles was fairly novel on a Manics record in 1993 and has rightly raised some eyebrows over the years – there is definitely some weight to the argument that the song ends up sounding slightly confused or directionless, especially compared to the calculated escalation of something like [A44] ‘La Tristesse Durera (Scream to a Sigh)’.
This song would become the first track on the Life Becoming a Landslide E.P. released in February 1994. That record would also feature [E56] ‘Comfort Comes’, widely thought of as the dawn of the cold, sinister sound of The Holy Bible, which was released six months later. Due to its presence on the EP, ‘Life Becoming a Landslide’ had a video made for under the direction of co-manager Martin Hall (who had last worked on the video for [A25] ‘Motorcyle Emptiness’. The video is comprised of live footage from a gig the band played in Japan and is one of the best examples on video of the adoration the Manics received on their early ’90s appearances there. The band would not release another EP containing any original and unreleased material until 2005’s God Save the Manics.
“there is no true love / just a finely tuned jealousy”