Released on: God Save the Manics (April 20, 2005)
‘Picturesque’ is by far the most notable song on the God Save the Manics EP but not because of its musical content, which is cut from very much the same cloth as the rest of the release. Instead it is the lyrics which are important here.
Before his disappearance in 1995, Richey Edwards gave to his bandmates a folder of lyrics. Its cover depicted Bugs Bunny with the word “OPULENCE” scrawled across it. Years later, the Manics decided to use these lyrics as the basis for an album, which became 2009’s Journal for Plague Lovers. In interviews around this time, the band discussed having looked at the folder numerous times but it was generally stated in the music press that none of the lyrics had ever before been used.
This was, however, not the case. ‘Picturesque’ in fact uses lyrics from two of Edwards’ compositions – “All Is Vanity” and “Doors Closing Slowly”. The band would record both of these (with various alterations) on Journal for Plague Lovers, but with ‘Picturesque’ they had created an unique fusion of the two songs with additional lyrics presumably written by Wire. This process resulted in a song which is far lighter in tone than either the later recordings or the actual spirit of Edwards’ lyrics. The result is unusual and sounds quite unworldly now than the Journal songs have become much more familiar than this fairly obscure EP track.
‘Picturesque’ is a fine finale to the EP and a good recording in its own right, possessing a strong guitar solo and a pleasingly subdued vocal from Bradfield. However, its primary value is as a historical curio proving that the band had indeed looked seriously – albeit briefly – at the legendary folder long before 2009.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“picturesque if nothing else”