Released on: Know Your Enemy (Album #6) Epic Records, 19 March 2001
As a major influence on the Manics, Essex indie pop band McCarthy have cropped up several times across the discography thus far, but it has always been the band’s far-left lyrical leanings which have been the main connection between the two bands. With ‘The Year of Purification’ this changes for once: it’s McCarthy’s musical style which is arguably being emulated by the Manics here. The jangling guitars are out in force, the pace is as frantic as on many of the songs found on I Am A Wallet, and the relatively raw production style of Know Your Enemy as heard here also brings McCarthy’s work to mind. It’s a fascinating effect – the Manics had simply never sounded like this, and it means that ‘Purification’ is arguably the second consecutive song on KYE to be a tribute of sorts.
The song is, simply put, completely lovely. The buoyant, bright feel is irresistible and Bradfield’s intricately layered vocal and stellar, subdued work in the chorus is also a real thrill. The only “downside” if it can be called that is the lyrics, which are intriguing in a way but never come close to coalescing into anything that can really be understood. This is in stark contrast to the often ingenious satire of Malcolm Eden’s lyrics for McCarthy, but again – those have been influential enough on the Manics without Wire needing to emulate them line-for-line here.
The Manics have recorded three McCarthy covers to date, and it’s interesting to look at how ‘The Year of Purification’ fits within these. It is certainly far more considered and polished than the hilariously breakneck and hectic recording of [E58c] ‘Charles Windsor’ that appeared on the Life Becoming a Landslide EP back in 1994. The next cover is [T141c] ‘We Are All Bourgeois Now’ which will show up as the final (and hidden) song on KYE, making this album pretty much the high point of the Manics’ connection with the wonderful McCarthy.
Of the several cruelly underrated songs on Know Your Enemy, ‘The Year of Purification’ is certainly one of the best, both because of its unique musical style and its intriguingly close connection with the Manics’ primary influence. A gem.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“What have I said again – I regret everything”