Released on: Know Your Enemy (Album #6) Epic Records, 19 March 2001
“What a mess”, Wire says at the end of the first verse of ‘Intravenous Agnostic’, and it does describe the song quite well in some ways. ‘Intravenous’ is perhaps the most pure demonstration of Know Your Enemy‘s gritty and hard-rocking side and is after the last couple of albums is refreshing in its razor-sharp, down-to-earth savagery. Further adding to the sense of throwing back to the early days of the Manics are the lyrics, which seem to represent Wire taking some leaves out of the disappeared Edwards’ book. The chaotic, stream-of-consciousness style and the specifics of certain lines actually bring to mind the lyrics Edwards had already left to the Manics before his disappearance, but which would not fully see the light of day until 2009.
Particularly because those lyrics are fairly unintelligible, though, the real focus here should be on the music itself. There are in fact few true Manics rockers which are quite as gripping as this; the duelling guitars, breakneck pace and Moore’s explosive drumming are all superb and provide ample reminders that the Manics could still rock like an earthquake in hell when circumstances required. The best moment comes in the final third when the song retreats into its own subdued intro, before surging into an electrifying guitar solo from Bradfield, and from there into a long drum roll and at last into the real climax. It’s here that ‘Intravenous Agnostic’ succeeds in perhaps its primary goal – proving that the Manics could still rock, while being industrious and experimental enough to do so in an original and refreshing way.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“television abandoned my very entity / nature failed me but then it made me”
Cubist – Cubism is an early 20th century avant-garde art movement which had influences on sculpture and architecture. This is one of several references to art and art history on Know Your Enemy.
Narcissism – a term used to refer to people consumed by egotism, self-regard, and self-love. It comes from the story of Narcissus, a figure in Greek mythology who fell in love with his own reflection. Major Manics influences McCarthy wrote a song about Narcissus, ‘Bad Dreams’, which appeared on their 1987 album I Am A Wallet.