Released On: Ocean Spray (Single #28) Epic Records, 4 June 2001
Peak UK Chart Position: #15
Band Ranking: #15
The fact that ‘Just a Kid’ is the only original B-side from the Know Your Enemy period to be included on the Lipstick Traces compilation implies that there’s something a little special about it, and so it proves. Built around a curiously yearning and unique Bradfield vocal, a harsh looping guitar line, and somewhat robotic-sounding drumming from Moore, the song is a looming, ominous pendulum of a song which swings back and forth like a lead weight. As with a number of other Manics tracks recorded both before and after it, it features lyrics which hark back to childhood times; in this case, the darkness of the music undermines the otherwise happy image of a “kid kicking around with no worries”. This could have something to do with the line “just a kid / acting like I used to be”, which might imply some kind of negative regression into a childlike state.
However you interpret it, the key appeal of ‘Just a Kid’ is its distinctively bleak but gripping atmosphere which seems to be quite on a tangent with just about anything else to do with the KYE period. There are certainly superior B-sides which weren’t given a spot on Lipstick Traces, but it’s hard to deny a song as fascinating as this the exposure the compilation offered.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“all of these feelings / not fully created”