Manic Street Preachers – Resistance is Futile Review

Four years off the back of one of their most accomplished works in over a decade in Futurology, The Manics are back with their thirteenth studio album, the typically to-the-point titled Resistance Is Futile. Nicky Wire and James Dean Bradfield have already hinted at the album’s sound being influenced by bigger, stadium rock styles in what is evocative of Springsteen and War On Drugs. It suggests the album may not be as musically versatile and imaginative as their last album, perhaps more orientated around lyrical content and pure arrangement.

Within seconds of the ‘International Blue’ opening, Bradfield’s scratching guitar parts and scraping vocals instantly plunge you into familiar territory of early 90’s Manics. It’s typical of a Manics style largely omitted from their last album of the higher pitched strings or electronica acting as the uplifting trail against the heavier sounds around it. With lyrics in tribute to artist Yves Klein, the band lend several elements of their sound and methods over the years to this track with the hint of the heartland rock of Springsteen. In that sense it is not a song evocative of the variation and bold sound of Futurology, but for Manics fans it’s exactly what you’d want. ‘Distant Colours’. is another foray into their standard, earlier sound with this track not sounding out of place on Gold Against The Soul from 1993. With brushing percussion and light riffs against James Dean Bradfield’s subtle vocals, the track then opens into lighter shades with broad guitars and more powerful vocal for the chorus. This track does not surmount to anything special or surprising like Futurology, but remains faithful track unto themselves if nothing else. ‘Dylan and Caitin’ tells of the turbulent relationship between Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and his wife Caitlin with the song split between them. James Dean Bradfield sings Dylan’s hypothetical words whilst Welsh singer songwriter Anchoress sings Caitlin’s. This song is perhaps a more pedestrian version of ‘Your Love Alone’ with its 60’s Motown arrangement around Bradfield’s typical tearing guitar.

‘Hold Me Like A Heaven’ sees the Manics at the most euphoric and sees them utilise vocal harmonies and choruses which they have seldom used before. It certainly reapplied James Dean Bradfield’s 1995 mantra of ‘taking a breath and singing a line’ to a more modern arrangement. It’s a poignant sound to relay and wistful set of lyrics. One of the highlights of the album. ‘People Give In’ shows their willingness to sharpen up their trademark string arrangements for a greater contrast for when they turn the wick up. Despite this, they keep the song rooted to its fundamental sound as opposed to a steep incline of fruition. ‘Liverpool Revisited’ is a heart-felt ode to a the spirit of the city, but in this instance the lyrics are ill-fitted to the track which veers off in non-sensical directions a little too often. The long drawn out recitals of the song’s title in ‘Broken Algorithms’ become unnecessary and though a notably heavier track, it still lacks any common direction. That seems to be where the Manics are lacking with Resistance is Futile. Whilst stylistically achieving their broader, stadium rock sound certain some songs get lost in these aims where they become difficult to follow and unsettlingly unpredictable. Their messages are as strong as ever through and when they get the music right as they do often on this album, they’re able to show flashes of brilliance and vigour which is commendable for a thirteenth album and a third decade of work.

Manic Street Preachers – Resistance Is Futile = 6.5/10

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Manic Street Preachers – Distant Colours

As we approach the April 13th release date of the Manics’ thirteenth studio album Resistance Is Futile, the ever-present Welsh rockers have released a second single in ‘Distant Colours’. It is another foray into their standard, earlier sound with this track not sounding out of place on Gold Against The Soul from 1993. With brushing percussion and light riffs against James Dean Bradfield’s subtle vocals, the track then opens into lighter shades with broad guitars and more powerful vocal for the chorus. This track does not surmount to anything special or surprising like Futurology, but remains faithful track unto themselves if nothing else.

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Manic Street Preachers – International Blue

Three years off the back of one of their most accomplished works in in over a decade in Futurology, The Manics are back with their new single ‘International Single’ from their typically to-the-point album titled Resistance Is Futile which is due in April. Nicky Wire and James Dean Bradfield have already hinted at the album’s sound being influenced by bigger, stadium rock styles in what is evocative of Springsteen and War On Drugs. Within seconds of the songs opening however, Bradfield’s scratching guitar parts and scraping vocals instantly plunge you into familiar territory of early 90’s Manics. It’s typical of a Manics style largely omitted from their last album of the higher pitched strings or electronica acting as the uplifting trail against the heavier sounds around it. With lyrics in tribute to artist Yves Klein, the band lend several elements of their sound and methods over the years to this track with the hint of the heartland rock of Springsteen. In that sense it is not a song evocative of the variation and bold sound of Futurology, but for Manics fans it’s exactly what you’d want. It remains to be seen whether their thirteenth studio album will succeed in it’s creative aims, but at the very least we can enjoy the Manics just doing what they could do with their eyes closed.

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Manic Street Preachers – Walk Me To The Bridge

On July 7th the Manics will release their twelfth studio album Futurology which, as promised is a quick turnaround from last years Rewind The Film which was the most profound Manics record for over a decade entwined around dark acoustic undertones with electronic forays to deliver lyrics of reflection and depth. This album is expected to be more up tempo and a little more akin to the ‘traditional’ Manics sound. The first track to be officially unveiled from the album is ‘Walk Me To The Bridge’ which is a track that opens with a wonderful jolting riff with an indelible canorous tinge, opening the track with slick tenacity and purpose. Alongside it runs it with James Dean Bradfield’s close and slightly warm sounding vocal before it the bursts with the light of electronically charged pop chords set against the heavy beat, bass line and shimmering guitars along with the now razor sharp vocal from James. It’s by no means the greatest song they’ve ever produced but it has a infections rhythm and that added lyrical dimension that you can usually expect from a Manics track. Make sure you mark July 7th down for their twelfth album as it will probably be well worth a look.

Image from www.travelstay.com

Manic Street Preachers – Rewind The Film Review

The Manics are pure legends of British Music and are valued and respected for the content they’ve produced for over twenty years now. However they did seem to have lost their edge slightly with their last album Postcards of a Young Man from 2010 and there was almost the feeling they had lost their way with their next work.  Now we know that this is the first of two completed albums from the Manics with Rewind The Film being the acoustic and more considered and nostalgic album and another more rock orientated towards their earlier work. Initially I was sceptical of the word acoustic being linked with a band of 40 somethings as in many past cases it’s musically and lyrically very basic and often a list of covers ‘from the songs they listened to as a nipper’ and only succeeds in their old catalouges being dug out. However with ‘Rewind the Film’ they have been able to develop a distinct mood and tone while keeping that sense of nostalgia albeit at a slightly less positive angle. It’s by no means a nothing acoustic ballad from a fading star losing the best of his vocal or a pointless churning through guitar chords. This is also an album that I’ve featured twice already with the tracks ‘Rewind The Film’ and ‘Show Me The Wonder’ and from that it’s not fallen into any stereotypes of aging rockers and acoustic guitars but does the album maintain it? 

The Manics decided that only Richard Hawley could deliver the title track ‘Rewind The Film’ for them otherwise it would not be worth putting on the album. Having developed a friendship with lead singer James Dean Bradfield, Hawley was happy to do so and didn’t want to let them down and mentioned how much of an honour it was to record with the Manics. It’s very much his tune with the Manics acting as backing band while Hawley’s rich and deep vocal runs against the instrumentals to really create a sombre feel to the song. The drama comes in the form of James Dean Bradfield making the odd burst towards the end and his powerful and energetic vocal still sounds as good as it did back in 1992 so there are no problems on that front. Of course musically it’s pretty basic, but the length of the song allows for a subtle but noticeable build up in sound from something sombre and considered to something grand and dramatic. Generally the track has been well received and perhaps taken a few critics by surprise due to wow they’ve utilised the acoustic sound in their own way.  ’Show Me The Wonder’ is the Manics taking the lead. It’s much more the positive, light hearted ballad they’ve been plugging for the last few years but’s been very much refreshed by the acoustic sound… yes I said refreshed. In addition to this it’s just a lot more catchy too with the trumpets giving the melody.  On the flipside to the title track its much more hopeful and optimistic in a sense lyrically; but also in the general tone and musicality of the song. The powerful and joyful vocals, the trumpets and the catchy riffs, percussion and bass lines.

’30-Year War’ is an odd song in principle to the acoustic sound with the synth beats and effects fused with it. As well as the vocal echo and isolation effects. Its almost Manics circa 2004 and it does start to work and gel together as a concept the more you listen to it. Perhaps this is helped as its something they’ve done before with Lifeblood. The lyrics and general message is an anti-Thatcher one. Including what she did to the working classes and her actions after Hillsborough etc. ‘(I Miss The) Tokyo Skyline’ is the epitome of the album with the way they’ve worked and manipulated the acoustic sound in much of the same way as ‘My Little Empire’ or ‘Ready For Drowning’ from 1998’s This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours and that is why it works so well as it did in 1998. ‘This Sullen Welsh Heart’ is probably more akin to the standard acoustic album and this has probably been tailored to Lucy Rose’s contribution but it’s a nice track and contrast between J.D.B’s more rough edged vocal against Lucy’s softer and more delicate sound. Rewind The Film is not too generic and its by no means so experimental and conceptualized that it isn’t relatable or translatable. The lyrics are and music share equal footing and in general it just shows that the Manics are still capable of being truly creative.

Manic Street Preachers – Rewind The Film = 8.5/10

Images from something-gold-something-new.com / www.amazon.co.uk 

 

Single Review – Manic Street Preachers – Show Me The Wonder

Everyone listen up! Single of the week is no more! I thought ‘why just have one when I could have so many more?’ So yeah, now I’m treating them like the album reviews which have no rules but of course the reviews will be a lot more snappy than that of an album. To start this off, I chose the Manic Street Preachers. The legends that they are. I did an album taster on them a month ago for the ‘Rewind The Film’ track off the album of the same name. It was quite intriguing and exciting that they were doing the acoustic sound justice and making it all dramatic as they do. Richard Hawely conveyed a sort of nostalgic yet bleak picture in the song. However ‘Show Me The Wonder’ is the Manics taking the lead. It’s much more the positive, light hearted ballad they’ve been plugging for the last few years but’s been very much refreshed by the acoustic sound… yes I said refreshed. In addition to this it’s just a lot more catchy too with the trumpets giving the melody and shows that they are still hoping for a decent chart showing perhaps. Or maybe there was no intention with this song. They hardly need anymore chart success which they were still getting into their forties. I’m not saying much on that subject other than I hope it does well in the charts. Though I doubt it will, the charts are fast becoming a waste of space anyway.  I wasn’t really expecting the light hearted musicality of this song but it’s by no means a bad thing either and the video too still evokes that nostalgic feel to the album.

http://youtu.be/J9L-jyFEsK4

Image from www.likeanegg.com