Released on: Life Becoming a Landslide E.P. (EP #2) Columbia Records, 7 February 1994
Compared with [E56] ‘Comfort Comes’, which precedes it on the Life Becoming a Landslide EP, ‘Are Mothers Saints?’ has faded into a fairly deep obscurity since its release. This isn’t surprising, in fairness. ‘Comfort Comes’ is now quite rightly seen as the dawn of the Holy Bible era and the prevailing sound of the Manics in 1994, while this song is very much more obviously a product of the outgoing Gold Against the Soul era.
Similarly, the track simply sounds like what it is: a minor recording designed to help fill an EP which was hardly a high Manics priority at the time. It’s possible that the song was recorded significantly earlier, possibly as an unused B-side to one of the GATS singles. The familiar full rock sound, a riff in the chorus which is virtually an abbreviated lift from [A25] ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ and a fairly minimal set of lyrics leading into a long outro could all imply that kind of origin for the recording.
The lyrics are undoubtedly the most interesting aspect of the song, and they have a link to ‘Comfort Comes’ in that both consist of a comparison. That song compares love and comfort, while this one compares mothers and saints (or gods) and leaves both coming off quite badly; mothers and gods are implied to be similar because of their capriciousness and duality, with an equal capacity for compassion and brutality.
‘Are Mothers Saints?’ is the only track in the Manics discography to feature a title that ends with a question mark.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“They give life and take it back / spit you out but understand”