Sound — 10
The media and fans may wish this album to be The Holy Bible 2, what it is instead is a record wrote in the same vein as Everything Must Go. For example title track Journal for Plague Lovers contains their biggest hook since Australia with a frenzied anthemic guitars. The album does begins with a messy crunchy rocker that might have sounded Holy Bible eske if it wasn't for the fact the compression is minimal and James doesn't raise to a venomous shout. It then continues with the monsterous sound of the Manics of new and never really looks back at the dark THB days. Jacky Collins, All is Vanity, JFPL, She bathed herself and VSEC could all comfortably hold their own with the best Manic rockers. Marlon J.D is propably the least understated thing here but after a few listens it becomes just as enormous as anything else. While the majority of the record is anthemic rock songs in the style of Everything Must Go on the other side of JFPL's is an achingly beautiful acoustic side, where the guitars are textured and rich, Facing Page Top Left and A Joke Sport Severed are true acoustic delights. To sum up the production is fantastic, but it isn't dark and brooding and compressed to rustyness, it's light and summery. Perfect for the anthemic hooks of the Manics of recent and very like Everything Must Go.
Lyrics — 10
Despite the lighter sound of the music the lyrics are understandingly very dark. Opener 'Peeled Apples' chorus throws out self harming 'bruises on my hands from digging my nails out' while 'Virginia State Epileptic Colony', explores the lack of humanity in mental institutions. The title track is the gem of the bunch though a classic Manics throw with a chorus about God and death. Still theres another side to JFPL we didn't see in the Holy Bible, Richey's humour, 'if a married man fuckes a catholic and his wife dies without knowing, does that make his unfaithful' he muses, in a lyric centred around a game show. The bridge 'oh mummy whats a sex pistol' is a fantastic slap in the face of Daily Mail Britain. James voice is on fine form too, still totally unintelligable to the lister without a lyric sheet. Even so hes in Australia mode for most of this album, short lines with enthisis, none of that spitting out big words quickly from THB. Great lyrics and singing, but this is the Manics.
Overall Impression — 10
If theres a problem with JFPL's theres no fat on the record at all, no song really develops, none of them really hang around. Most of them are 2-3 minutes long and while theres a lot to them you'll be damned to see a 2 minute long guitar solo or even one that goes on long enough to notice. This can hurt the songs when they just end without any big send off but it also keeps the energy up and the record short enough to listen to in a sitting and be taken as an album rather than a collection of songs. This album does sound like it could have been made straight after THB. It's definatly a companion peace to EMG, a similar sound and outlook, which is better though? it's hard to tell, JFPL is propably their most consistant, catchy and listenable album ever but EMG has a handful of classic tracks and I can't see any of these songs becoming radio stickers especially with no singles being released. The best approach, buy all the albums, and if you've already got them all definatly buy JFPL's its their best in 10 years.