Released on: Know Your Enemy (Album #6) Epic Records, 19 March 2001
By the time track eight rolls around, it has already become clear that Know Your Enemy is a chaotic album on which the Manics are taking advantage of their broad canvas to throw all sorts of curious ideas out. Even that knowledge, though, doesn’t soften the blow that is ‘Miss Europa Disco Dancer’, perhaps the most bizarre stylistic departure of the band’s whole career thus far. Yes, here the band dive headfirst into a faithful recreation of disco, the oft-maligned pop genre that dominated the late 1970s.
With the exception of the lyrics, the Manics’ effort at disco is so textbook that it could almost be used as a kind of demonstration of how the genre is meant to sound; prominent bass, wah-pedal electric guitar, harp for a melodic kick, and a flat four-to-the-floor beat provided by Moore. It’s slick, crisp and – once you can get over the sheer oddness of it – very enjoyable.
Now, the Manics aren’t in the business of recreating random musical genres on a whim, and there had to be some kind meaning behind the whole thing. It’s the lyrics that explain this – with its talk of self-destructive beauties and “braindead motherfuckers” ‘Miss Europa’ on the face of it takes the form of an attack on the vacuous nature of the disco scene and possibly the ’70s in general (the minute-long repetitions of this line by Wire underscore again his growing presence on vocals). This makes a lot of sense especially given disco’s reputation for copious cocaine and quaalude use and the band’s oft-repeated negative stance towards drugs. However, in an interview in 2001, Bradfield explained that as much as anything, the song was actually about mind-numbing TV like Big Brother.
One of the most strikingly weird and yet beautifully put-together moments in this period of the Manics discography, ‘Miss Europa Disco Dancer’ is a very amusing pastiche and one of the most unique moments in the bewildering set of songs that is Know Your Enemy.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“wake up drunk / and then fall over”