Sound — 5
It's overblown, self-indulgent and pretentious, and to be honest, apart from Bradfield's guitar playing the musicianship is the wrong side of mediocre. But then that's what punk is about, or was at least. The Manics came out of Wales in a tornado of retro feather-scarfs and glam-mascara in the early '90s, a dramatic, self-knowing parody of the past in a British music scene dominated by Madchester, announcing to the media they would sell 20 million sandpaper-packaged copies of their debut album and then split up, destroying rock n'roll in the process. Not only this but they were "4Real" as lyricist Richey James' bloody arm proudly proclaimed after a journalist had dared question the bands intent. Sadly, at the time the band itself was far more interesting than the music, which made them sound awfully like a Guns N' Roses tribute band. On some tracks they pull it off, such as on Slash N' Burn, Born To End, You Love Us and the famous Motorcycle Emptiness. On other tracks it just sounds like cheap, uninspired imitation.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics are what make the Manics such a great band and in some ways save the album. Co-written by university graduates Nicky Wire and Richey James they are unashamadly intellectual, doing the whole politics thing better than RATM ever could and the whole alienation thing better than Nirvana in their vague, mumbling way ever did. However, do the lyrics fit in with the music? No fucking way, but in a way that contrast is part of the beauty.
Overall Impression — 7
To sum up it's beautifully melodramatic and any album that includes in it's sleeve notes quotes by George Orwell, William S. Burroughs, E. E. Cummings, Sylvia Plath and Confucius is bound to be at least an interesting and unusual experience.