Released on: Everything Must Go (Album #4) Epic Records, 20 May 1996
Also on: Australia (Single #20) Epic Records, 2 December 1996
Peak UK Chart Position: #7
Band Ranking: #21
Of the two big back-to-back Manics singles that have been amusingly misused over the years, the first to be released is ‘Australia’ which in addition to being the fourth single from Everything Must Go (something Wire described as “fucking impressive”) was also famously used in TV advertisements by the Australian tourist board. In truth, the song is not so much about how lovely a place Australia is, and more about Wire’s wish to be as far away from Wales as possible in the anguished aftermath of Edwards’ disappearance. That being said, it is easy to see why the Australians were so willing to overlook the song’s lyrics and theme and just focus instead on its joyous, sun-soaked sound.
UK audiences also took to the song, propelling it to an impressive #7 on the UK charts in May 1996. This meant that the Manics had scored top ten hits with every one of their EMG singles, further underscoring their emergence as a true commercial power within the British music scene. It is as a single that ‘Australia’ is mainly remembered, arguably – within the album context it is sandwiched between two of the weakest tracks.
As the lyrics are a fairly uneventful stroll through the song’s simple theme of escapism, it falls to the music itself to really lift the song, and lift it does. Of particular note are Moore’s tremendous drumming and the whole effect of the climax, which begins around two thirds of the way into the song and creates a real sense of emotional release which is very appropriate given the track’s origins. On hearing the recorded version for the first time, it’s easy to imagine the band and their team immediately realising the commercial potential of this somewhat slight, but thrilling effort.
The video is a bit of non-entity, unfortunately. Directed by John Hillcoat (in his second and much less impressive EMG effort), it juxtaposes the Manics – mainly Bradfield – against various natural phenomena like the stars and storms.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“praying for the wave to come now”