Sound: Manic Street Preachers. A band to whom few need an introduction but many have no idea who they are. This is the band who started out as a sloganeering, punk rock n roll band, set on taking over the world with one album, splitting up and disappearing forever. 10 albums later and they've carved a career out of time itself, over more than 20 years and they still sound as vital today as they did early 90's. If you know the Manics then you'll see parallels between "Postacards" and "Everything Must Go" but with a "Send Away The Tigers" twist. Soaring strings matched with epic guitar and James Dean Bradfield's beautiful melodies, this is an album of anthemic stadium-filling tunes. To say this album is epic wouldn't be doing it justice. It's sounds MASSIVE! Just listen to lead single, "(It's Not War) Just The End Of Love" and you hear the soaring riffs, always melodic and that guitar hero solo... You can't help but feel uplifted. And that's what this record is, unlike other Manics Albums (such as "The Holy Bible"). It's an uplifitng, positive album and all the songs reflect that. James Dean Bradfield's guitar work is top quality as always with great solos and riff on tracks like "A Billion Balconies Facing The Sun" (which features Duff McKagan on bass), "Don't Be Evil" and "Hazleton Avenue". They're still as great as they've always been. // 9
Lyrics: Lyrically the Manics are always great. Even after losing lyrical band figurehead, Richey Edwards, after the masterpiece that was "The Holy Bible", Nicky Wire took sole lyrical duties with a razor sharp tongue, dry wit and political awareness. He's still got it, after writing classic lyrics like "if you tolerate this your children will be next" and the like, he's still one of the best lyricists around, up there with the likes of Morrissey. There's a sense of hope, and in some places nostalgia in the words. Wire's always sharp, my favourite lyrics here include "A billion balconies facing the sun / A billion faces turn to their screens / the perfect answer to camouflage our screams" and from "Golden Platitudes" "why colonize the moon / when every different kind of desperation exists". James still sings beautifully and even when Wire takes lead vocals on "The Future Has Been Here 4ever", he sounds good and maintains the album's standards. Again, still as good as they've always been. // 10
Overall Impression: Manic Street Preachers are one of a kind. They've always done things on their terms and have spat in the face of music along the way. They survived all the music scenes they were never a part of, from Seattle to Britpop, from Manchester to modern pop, they've always been apart from everything else. They went on Top Of The Pops dressed as the IRA, resulting in the BBC recieving a record number of complaints over a performance and a ban from the show, a record they proudly hold. This album is a group of friends making music, as they have done for the past 25 years, and you can hear that they still enjoy it very much. They're still who they were when the started and they're still one of those bands who attract a devoted following but will pass by the majority of people, and they don't care because they people they are pleasing really care about them. I've been to a few Manics gigs and the generation gap is astounding, from middle aged people bringing their kids, to teenagers and even some elderly people. But the atmosphere feels like a family get together. This record will be loved by people of all shapes and sizes but what I love about it is it's epicness and it's positive strength to uplift and create a happy atmosphere. All the songs have good qualities and there seems to be no album filler. If you're already a Manics fan then you should already know it's a good album. If you're new to the band then take my word for it, the Manics are great. If you don't like this album then there will be an album by them you do like. If it were stolen I would by it again, no question.
The one thing to take away from this album is that the Manics are still amazing. There is no question of it. They are vital and there's a sense they always will be. They've touched people's lives and that's something that can't be stolen away. Long live Manic Street Preachers. // 9