Sound — 7
Manic Street Preachers have been captivating audiences with their signature hard rock musical style since the mid-1980's. The group immediately caught significant media attention following the release of their debut album, "Generation Terrorists," back in 1992. Manic Street Preachers' elaborate guitar riffs and lyrical content resembled such alternative rock groups of the time period as The Cult and The Clash, and their strong overtones of glam punk allowed the band to stand out against other up-and-coming acts. "Generation Terrorists" spawned a number of successful singles for the band, including "Slash 'n' Burn" and "Stay Beautiful" which climbed the UK singles charts. Manic Street Preachers' debut will quickly be certified Gold in the United Kingdom, but this would only be the start of a long line of successful studio albums and singles for the Welsh rock group. Their fifth album, "This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours," showed Manic Street Preachers moving into a more commercial and pop-influenced direction. This change in sound resulted in an album that was both a commercial and critical success, ultimately spawning three number one singles in the UK and earning Manic Street Preachers an award for "Best British Album" at the 1999 BRIT Awards. Since then, the band has continued to issue a long line of successful studio albums, which steadily manage to debut within the top five positions in the United Kingdom. After releasing their tenth studio album in 2010, Manic Street Preachers decided it was time for a change. With their new record, the band gives their distortion pedals a break and instead move into a significant acoustic-driven direction. "Rewind the Film" is a collection of twelve new compositions, boasting intricate acoustic guitar playing and vocal melodies. The album's title track may throw off established fans at the first listen; Richard Hawley makes a special guest appearance, and takes over on vocal duties until the three minute mark. Lead vocalist James Dean Bradfield briefly participates on this song, taking over for only for small periods of time during the chorus. When he does sing over the intricate acoustic work of the song, it's like a breath of fresh air, as it is the only part of the song where it even remotely sounds like Manic Street Preachers. Thankfully this isn't the case with the entire album; when it comes to such songs as "Show Me the Wonder," James mans the microphone for the entire track, and when backed by upbeat brass paying, acoustic work and standout backup vocalists, the piece comes together effortlessly. Is this new musical direction what one would call "traditional Manic Street Preachers"? Not at all, but the group manages to adopt this new style as their own, while keeping things interesting for their fan base and still sounding like themselves.
Lyrics — 7
James Dean Bradfield gives a continuously standout performance throughout "Rewind the Film." For this studio album, James left his angst-fueled lyrical delivery at home, and instead adopts a more relaxed style which compliments the band's new acoustic direction perfectly. His range is as strong as it has ever been; he can still hit the same high notes that he originally did on Manic Street Preachers' debut album with ease, which provides an anchor to the band's earlier outings and keeps the album sounding familiar.
Overall Impression — 7
After over two decades of performing distortion-soaked hard rock live on stage, and ten studio albums later, Manic Street Preachers finally decided that it is time to take charge and try on a new musical style on for size. With "Rewind the Film," the band goes unplugged style throughout ten new tracks, which mostly thanks to lead vocalist James Dean Bradfield's vocal range and lyrical delivery manages to keep the music sounding familiar and strong. The entire album is standout, however I found such songs as the aforementioned "Show Me the Wonder" to stand out against the rest. Any fan of Manic Street Preachers' earlier outings should have no problem enjoying this new album for themselves, and appropriately comes highly recommended.