Released on: Life Becoming a Landslide E.P. (EP #2) Columbia Records, 7 February 1994
The first previously-unheard track released with the Life Becoming a Landslide EP in February 1994 – the first Manics EP containing new material since 1990 – has gone on to have legendary status as the a kind of prologue to or premonition of The Holy Bible. Fragments and hints of the kind of harsh, dark sound that album would go on to have were littered across Gold Against the Soul and its B-sides, but it is ‘Comfort Comes’ which, in retrospect, is widely regarded as the song on which that sound first became manifest.
‘Comfort Comes’ is not only one of the most important Manics tracks of the early ’90s, however – it is also flat-out one of the very best. By stripping away the embellishments used to achieve the stadium-ready rock sound of Gold Against the Soul – piano, organ, strings – and refocusing on an embittered and yet coldly clinical guitar and drum sound, the song burns with an intensity often found lacking in GATS and some of the more middling Generation Terrorists tracks. It is disciplined, remorseless, cold and gripping.
Finest moments are many, despite the sheer pared-back simplicity of the composition; the sharp shock of the intro is superb and the sinister-sounding distorted solo by Bradfield is perhaps the single instant in which the band’s classic 1994 sound comes to life for the first time. Also significant is the Bradfield’s continuing twisted vocal alter-ego, a way of singing that was hinted at in a number of earlier songs (particularly B-sides) and would hold sway for the all of The Holy Bible before disappearing essentially forever afterwards. His delivery in the verses in particular is totally integral to the warped feeling of the whole recording.
Also remarkable are the lyrics, which both possess a kind of stream-of-consciousness quality and articulate a truly coherent idea of – as the first line of the chorus sets out – “the difference between love and comfort”. The words were presumably written by Edwards, given their similarity to other works of his, and essentially posit that love is transient and unreliable, whereas as comfort – an altogether more limited and even “brutal and mocking” feeling – is dependable and easily accessed. As with much of THB, there is a slightly impenetrable, mysterious aspect to the lyrics, especially the final few lines; although these may be about the idea that luxurious items and the comfort they bring to some individuals are the product of harsh labour on the part of other, less fortunate people.
All of this is much less graphic and gut-wrenching than many of the lyrics that were to follow on THB, but they are cut from very much the same cloth (Edwards is thought to have written around 70% of that album). While the Manics were still keeping their commitment to never write a conventional love song, ‘Comfort Comes’ is very much about love as a philosophical concept, a topic the band would return to many times, although rarely at this length. The song makes a very strong companion to [T46] ‘Life Becoming a Landslide’ because they deal in quite similar ideas; the line “there is no true love / just a finely tuned jealously” would have worked perfectly on ‘Comfort Comes’.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“comfort’s the helpless sole vanity / caressing the broken heart of me”