Released on: The Love of Richard Nixon (Single #31), Sony Records, 18 October 2004
Also on: Lifeblood (Album #7), Sony Records, 1 November 2004
If Radiohead are Kennedy, then Manic Street Preachers are Nixon; the ugly duckling who had to try ten times harder than anyone else. Paranoid megalomaniacs.
With ‘The Love of Richard Nixon’, released almost exactly two years after their previous single, the Manics began in earnest the Lifeblood era. The band’s seventh album would pursue much more strongly the electronic sound which had influenced the last single [A148] ‘There By the Grace of God’. This song is very much in that vein, in that it downplays guitars in favour of a more synthesized style.
As a result, the song is closest to the 1980s synthpop sound which critics frequently ascribed to the Lifeblood LP as a whole. While it has some interesting lyrics and is quite novel in its status as a sympathetic portrait of a Republican US president by a leftist Welsh rock band, ‘Richard Nixon’ is ultimately one of the weakest Manics songs to be released as an A-side for some time. The tempo is plodding and Bradfield’s sleepy delivery might bring to mind the haggard, beleaguered figure of Nixon but it is hardly thrilling.
Ultimately, the almost pure ’80s synthpop sound of the song does not suit the band, who would find much greater success in the more inventive songs on the album proper. To release the song as the lead single for the new album seems like a mistake in retrospect, but perhaps surprisingly this single reached #2 in the UK chart.
Happily, the song’s video by Type2error is very nicely made, with some clever animated effects. In it, the band wear protective suits and Nixon masks which also appear on all of the single’s promotional material and cover.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“Richard III in the White House”
Richard III – King of England who lived from 1452 to 1485 and reigned from 1483 until his death at the Battle of Bosworth. Commonly thought of a hunchbacked, murderous villain in no small part due to his depiction in Shakespeare’s play of the same name from around 1592.