Released on: Know Your Enemy (Album #6) Epic Records, 19 March 2001
The perennial Manics subject of anti-monarchism rears its less-than-consistent head once more on ‘Royal Correspondent’, the song which provides a fire-break between the two very long tracks on the second half of Know Your Enemy. This time around, Wire pens a scathing attack not so much on the royal family themselves but on someone who aspires to be a royal correspondent, a journalistic role normally associated mainly with the BBC and which was held by Jennie Bond at the time of the album’s release. Wire’s lyrics are likely to be inspired by Bond personally; the song basically posits the job of royal correspondent as being suited to someone vain, with a sense of superiority and someone who desires closeness with the royal family. Bond was well-known for giving the impression that she was close personally with members of the royal family.
‘Royal Correspondent’ is fairly widely thought of as one of the weakest tracks on Know Your Enemy and there are certainly reasons to think this. The lyrics definitely leave something to be desired, particularly a little extra in the subtlety department. There just seems to be something about the monarchy which brings out – well, not the worst in Wire, but certainly not the best. The wonky, processed guitars and heavy use of machined drums are also a little difficult to enjoy at times. What really is enjoyable about the song is the sinister feel that it creates, particularly through Bradfield’s vocals on lines like “royal correspondent / smarter than the rest”. It’s not a bad song, but KYE would certainly be a better album if one of the better B-sides was swapped in for this.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“build a fountain wash away the poor / just as long as your motives are pure”
Daily Mail – British daily newspaper known for its populist, conservative views founded in 1896.
Holy Grail – mythical object of great power known for its role in Arthurian legends which is often conflated with the Holy Chalice, the cup used by Jesus at the last supper.