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Manic Street Preachers

  • This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours
  • Know Your Enemy
  • Lifeblood
  • Send Away The Tigers
  • Journal For Plague Lovers
  • Postcards From A Young Man

  • Album Reviews |

    Manic Street Preachers

    journal for plague lovers know your enemy send away the tigers this is my truth lifeblood

    This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours ( 1998 )
    The Everlasting / If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next / You Stole the Sun From My Heart / Ready for Drowning / Tsunami / My Little Empire / I'm Not Working / You're Tender and You're Tired / Born a Girl / Be Natural / Black Dog on My Shoulder / Nobody Loved You / S.Y.M.M.

    Massive success will take a toll on anybody in any artistic field. It's human nature, after all. If I suddenly had the millions rolling in because I won the lottery, let alone by some miracle won an award for something, it's likely my attitudes would change somewhere, somehow. So, having proved themselves, what do Manic Street Preachers give us with the clumsily titled 'This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours'? Well, Mike Hedges and Dave Eringa are credited with production work, both covering everything in a layered sheen of polished strings and other instrumentation such as Cello, Accordion, etc. James Dean Bradfield plays a Sitar and an Ominchord among his usual instrumentation, whilst we all know what Nicky Wire and Sean Moore do. Additional engineering and mixing by Ian Grimble, Guy Massey. I mean, these aren't names any 'punk' band should have involved in their recording.

    Lyrically, they are as intelligent as ever, even though they still failed to break through in America whilst being arguably the biggest band in the UK. The first half of the album is pretty good and certainly up to the standard they'd reached with 'Everything Must Go.' There are issues with the second half, too many slow tunes, too much apparent emotion that when wrapped up in singularly uninspired tunes is never likely to get anybody dancing in the streets. I mean, 'I'm Not Working' and 'You're Tender and 'You're Tired' simply aren't good enough songs, whatever layers of production Messrs Eringa and Hedges choose to inflict upon us. Hey Manics, why not get Bernard Butler into produce if you really do want a layered, Spectorish sound? Anyway, only one genuinely good tune on the second half, the delicate and weaving spell that is 'Black Dog On My Shoulder'.

    'The Everlasting' is a clever six minutes of music, slowly building up and then holding itself in some kind of 'Let It Be' sway if you're that way inclined. 'If You Tolerate This' is genuinely anthemic whilst 'You Stole The Sun' will likely be the favourite tune for fans of 'The Holy Bible'. ' 'Tsunami' is my particular favourite tune – I like the attractive melody underneath the soaring chorus – this is a tune well up to par for the Manics and they should be proud of it. Overall though, 'This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours' hasn't stood the test of time outside of the Manics fan-base. A quick check on amazon.co.uk reveals an astonishing 50 copies for sale second hand, starting at a princely 28 pence.

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    Know Your Enemy ( 2001 )
    Found That Soul / Ocean Spray / Intravenous Agnostic / So Why So Sad / Let Robeson Sing / The Year of Purification / Wattsville Blues / Miss Europa Disco Dancer / Dead Martyrs / His Last Painting / My Guernica / The Convalescent / Royal Correspondent / Epicentre / Baby Elián / Freedom of Speech Won't Feed My Children

    As you splutter out your coffee all over your face in light of the rating i've given this, let me right a few untruths. Firstly, you'll have heard that 'Know Your Enemy' was a commercial flop. This is untrue, it outsold both the albums that came after it and peaked at number two in the UK album charts. True, it didn't sell as well as 'Everything Must Go' or 'This Is The Truth', but they were both released right at the height of Britpop anyway. Secondly, there appears to be a belief that 'Know Your Enemy' lacks the craft of earlier Manics albums, in particular 'This Is My Truth' and 'Everything Must Go'. Now, this point is rather a matter of taste. For me, by the time of 'This Is My Truth' the Manic Street Preachers were in grave danger of 'selling out' and becoming everything they said they never would. Safe, boring, dull and predictable. 'Know Your Enemy' is a deliberate retort to all those people that said the group were artistically dead following the bland moments contained on 'This Is My Truth'. We have a huge array of styles here, even seeing fit to incorporate a disco parody. In a way, it's a nod back to the groups punk beginnings, only actually with far more craft on display than ever before. Don't confuse craft with a production style. The range of styles present here has led to some fans and critics to describe the album akin to a traincrash. I disagree, but then again, I prefer a traincrash to a plain fishbowl in a sterile dentists surgery.

    Two singles were released on the same day to promote the album, 'Found That Soul' and 'So Why So Sad'. 'Found That Soul' is tremendous, harking back to the 'Holy Bible' era in terms of style. Punky, intelligent, energetic. The chorus is strong and this was deservedly a top ten hit single here in the UK, says me. 'So Why So Sad' is more of a fanbase splitting number. Often described as the bands attempt to be The Beach Boys, purely because of some 'ba da bum' backing vocals and a certain twinkling nature to the percussion, in reality it isn't. It's more soul, more Motown or a Spector. It's also a really excellent song that repeated plays only help in appreciating, rather than diminishing the song, as with so many pop releases. The third single was 'Ocean Spray' featuring the first set of James Dean Bradfield lyrics to make it to a Manic Street Preachers album. Decent enough lyrics and a beautiful set of melodies for this softer, almost semi-acoustic number. Funnily enough, the song really reminds me of Sebadoh, remember Sebadoh? They would mix in acoustic with electric, sort of post grunge.

    'Miss Europa Disco Dancer' is the controversial song of the set, thanks to it being a proper, disco type of song. It's fairly short for a disco number running to under four minutes. It's also pretty funny if you don't take it too seriously. So, a highlight then? No, but 'Intravenous Agnostic' certainly is. Arguably the best song on the album, it's spits out fiery guitar, is a proper song underneath the noise and the lyrics offer intrigue. The Nicky Wire song 'Wattsville Blues' may well be utterly forgettable, but 'The Convalescent' is another slice of speedy, energetic splendour. Some of the better songs here really do get under the soul. Just one more highlight then, because you can buy the album and discover your own. 'The Year Of Purification' is stunning, sheer class. Opening with the word 'Detoxification', like all good songs do! Backing vocals, a jingle jangle to the guitar phrase, some slight distortion. A subtle yet memorable chorus. Sheer joy. This messy Manics album is far better than many like to credit it for and it remains one of my favourites by them, simple as. What's your view?

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    Readers Comments

    Trevor e.y. Demander77@aol.com
    Adrian, I totally agree with your rating! And many have also laughed at me, but for real this album is underrated and unfairly blasted. The first half is pretty much flawless (I even like "Wattsville Blues!") but other highlights are "Let Robeson Sing", "Dead Martyrs", and "Freedom of Speech won't Feed My Children". It's the first summery of their career and I also am a fan, just so you know. There are at least two of us out there!

    Alex alex_jac1980@yahoo.com
    I do agree with much of what you say even if I believe the rating is a tad high. I feel the Manics lost what was truly special about them when Richey disapeared. When he was there, there was a sense that everything truly meant something. Post 1995 they have been more workmanlike than brilliant, with some exceptions, many of which are on Know Your Enemy. Intravenous Agnostic is an awesome song, as is Found That Soul. It is a bit all over the place, but its better to have something raw after the overly bland This Is My Truth and the also bland follow up to this Lifeblood.

    Chris Petham
    I completely agree, this is such an underrated album and is definitely best than their last two albums (although Tigers is still good). I mean when an album has a song like The Convalescent, it deserves at least some praise.

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    Lifeblood 6 ( 2004 )
    1985 / The Love of Richard Nixon / Empty Souls / A Song for Departure / I Live to Fall Asleep / To Repel Ghosts / Emily / Glasnost / Always-Never / Solitude Sometimes / Fragments / Cardiff Afterlife

    Key lyric on the opening '1985' has to be Morrissey and Marr gave me choice. Yeah, it's a song that's looking back and it even sees fit to include a swathe of keyboards and a very polished, stadium rock sound. The sound of 1985, the lead track, is instantly striking and yet confusing. Where has the punk Manics of old gone? Then you stop to think about it, that they've actually managed to create several of their albums distinct from each other. 'Lifeblood' is a perverse side away from 'Know Your Enemy' but no more so than that was away from 'This Is My Truth'. My expectations for this new release weren't much, but '1985' is certainly a pleasant surprise at least, it's a really well constucted song from top to bottom. Too many songs here though pass happily by without really registering any deeper. In a bid for maturity to seemingly answer critics of 'Know Your Enemy' they've gone totally the other way. After '1985' the next song that seems clever actually memorable rather than just put together well by producer ( Tony Visconti ) and band is 'I Live To Fall Asleep', which manages to be interesting. 'To Repel Ghosts' on the otherhand, very keyboard heavy, sounds like Keane. If you'd asked the Manics of ten years ago what they'd want to sound like ten years hence 'like simple minds or U2' wouldn't likely have sprung from their lips. I do however give the band credit for their craft on this album but they didn't need to prove to me they can write songs. They needed to prove to me they can still create excitement, for all the critiscms levelled at 'Know Your Enemy' by the vast majority, it was very rarely ever boring and this album does slip time and again into the irrelevance category. It's like a Simply Red for former Britpop and Indie fans who are now accountants or working in offices. Everything they said they wouldn't be when they were at college or university such people now are. Getting married and having kids isn't a sign of middle-age. Listening to 'Lifeblood' above and beyond actually good music that retains energy and innovation is a sign of middle-age. Becoming happily middle aged and not caring so much about things like music anymore is natural. I won't say it happens to everyone because it doesn't. It has happened to lots of Manic Street Preachers fans though and 'Lifeblood' is an album for them.

    So, if 'Know Your Enemy' has been criticized for being 'a train crash' - construction, muscianship, nostalgia and playing it safe have replaced the danger and warts and all of 'Know Your Enemy'. I'd rather have my Manics as a train crash, personally. It seems more in keeping with the raw, exhilarating punk of 'Motown Junk', one of the bands very first singles and the song that got me interested in them in the first place. I like bands changing, but the change signified by 'Lifeblood' is merely a possible slow descent into middle age, middle of the road, safe and unchallenging. Using keyboards and having eighties influences in itself isn't radically experimental you see at a time plenty of other bands are doing the exact same thing. The second half of 'Lifeblood' is the real disappointment with bland song after uninterestingly bland song, one after another. It's a shame but I won't write these guys off altogether. The finest material here shows what they can still do.

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    Readers Comments

    Gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    I have to disagree, Lifeblood is a fine album, 1985 is excellent, but i absolutely loved 'The love of richard nixon' i thought it was an outstanding piece and showed why the manics set themselves apart from the rest of the trash thats out there in the charts, it shows theyve moved on - and rightly so.......i think what people fail to realise about a band that stays together, the excitement DOES go, the original songs that made them great DONT get repeated as much, Pink Floyd never sounded like they did with Syd Barrett ever again, Nor do the manics sound like a band that used to have Richey Edwards pushing them on, times have changed, they write different songs now.........its that simple.............the best songs here are amongst some of the manics best stuff, 'empty souls', 'to repel ghosts', 'glasnost' - 'fragments' is a beautiful song.......it sounds like a really well produced studio album............i prefer it to 'send away the tigers' - as good as that is...........! i'd give Lifeblood a healthy 8/10, its no 'holy bible' but you all probably know that anyway? ;-)

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    Send Away The Tigers ( 2007 )
    Send Away the Tigers / Underdogs / Your Love Alone Is Not Enough / Indian Summer / The Second Great Depression / Rendition / Autumnsong / I Am Just a Patsy / Imperial Bodybags / Winterlovers + Working Class Hero (bonus song)

    Post Britpop Manic Street Preachers follow both Nicky Wire and James releasing solo albums that nobody bought. The lead single on 'Send Away The Tigers' in contrast sailed straight to number two on the UK singles charts. They proved they had a chemistry, even after all those years. Opening the album is the title track, a fine anthemic slice of rock music many a thirty-something will be happy to have blaring out of their car windows.

    'Your Love Is Not Enough' is a duet with that woman from The Cardigans and it's patently clear why this has been released as a single. It's not only perhaps the best song here by some distance, but actually, one of the finest britpop singles not to be a britpop single, because britpop of course no longer exists. I mean, even Tony 'Britpop' Blair is no longer Prime Minister. I don't know what my thoughts or hopes for this album were. Nothing really. 'Lifeblood' hardly thrilled me and a song like 'The 2nd Great Depression' lacks both the fire and wit of prime Manics. 'The Second Great Depression' proves that this band have tried to go back to 'Everything Must Go'. So, we get string sections all over the place purely to boost the sound rather than need to be there. Everything is turned upto 11 and James Dean Bradfield shouts a good half of his lyrics even when they don't need to be. Still, repeated plays get the choruses into your brain anyway and it's thus for 'The Second Great Depression'. The production contains a confidence, 'Rendition' almost justifies such confidence. You can sing along to it, which is good.

    Finding actively bad songs is a struggle actually. Fans can safely apply or re-apply to the Manic Street Preachers station and be sure to be satisfied. 'Indian Summer' for example sounds like it could be a single, and several other songs here do, although 'Your Love Alone Is Not Enough' which was a single is ahead of all the other pretenders in the catchy stakes. 'Autumn Song' was released in the middle of Spring - that's just silly! It's also one of the finest James Dean Bradfield vocals here and one of the best songs. The epic sounding Queen-like production serves the band well.

    I'll always have a soft spot for stuff like 'Know Your Enemy' and the under produced Manics myself. It's all very well-being in the studio and fiddling around with knobs (no Justin Hawkins jokes, please) to boost your sound. Actually using the studio creatively is another matter. Still, this remains a fine album. It's not an essential album by any means, but I can't not like it. There's nothing here not to like.

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    Journal For Plague Lovers 9 ( 2009 )
    Peeled Apples / Jackie Collins Existential Question Time / Me and Stephen Hawking / This Joke Sport Severed / Journal for Plague Lovers / She Bathed Herself in a Bath of Bleach / Facing Page: Top Left / Marlon J.D. / Doors Closing Slowly / All Is Vanity / Pretension-Repulsion / Virginia State Epileptic Colony / William's Last Words / Bag Lady

    James Dean Bradfield said there would be something seriously amiss if they couldn't reconnect with lyrics Ritchey wrote just before he vanished. I mean, trying to write a sequel of sorts to your most critically acclaimed album some fifteen years later is an almost impossible task. It would be like The Smiths reforming and not only attempting a sequel to 'The Queen Is Dead' but actually pulling it off as well. So, in that respect, 'Journal For Plague Lovers' is a quite brilliant achievment and possibly the finest thing Manic Street Preachers have ever done. Well, this isn't really a sequel to 'Holy Bible' stylistically, even lyrically the tone is slightly less desperate interestingly. Yet, with Steve Albini producing yet not obliterating the Manics sound, the lads from Wales have done good. The rhythm section batters you briefly here and there, James Dean Bradfield does a quite magnificent job throughout with his vocals and melodies and a few two/three minute tunes are almost impossibly good.

    'Peeled Apples' thumps the album into action and is good enough to give life back to people in cardiac arrest. The deliciously titled 'Jackie Collins Existential Question Time' contains a classic lyric, well, a few actually. What if a married man fucks a catholic and his wife dies without knowing? Oh mummy what is a sex pistol? Difficult words to sing but James Dean Bradield is used to fitting such unweildy phrases into a song. 154 seconds this tune, including a stormingly excellent last third. 'This Joke Sport Severed' reminds me of 'Small Black Flowers' from 'Everything Must Go', 'Marlon JD' is an absolute highlight merging punk energy with an accomplished sense of melody and of course, brilliant lyrics. Even a song titled 'She Bathed Herself In A Bath Of Bleach' retains an edge whilst not losing site of packing a melodic punch and it was a melodic punch that 'The Holy Bible' occasionally lost sight of. 'Journal For Plague Lovers' virtually gets everything right and the only real bad thing I can think to say is how the hell do they top this?

    Even the Nicky Wire sung 'Williams Last Words' has charm. Blimey!

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    Postcards From A Young Man 7 ( 2010 )
    (It's Not War) Just the End of Love / Postcards from a Young Man / Some Kind of Nothingness / The Descent / Hazelton Avenue / Auto-Intoxication / Golden Platitudes / I Think I Found It / A Billion Balconies Facing the Sun / All We Make Is Entertainment / The Future Has Been Here 4 Ever / Don't Be Evil

    It's hard to draw a straight line between 'Generation Terrorists' and 'Postcards From A Young Man'. Well, the Manics have taken the odd diversion here and there, the maligned 'Know Your Enemy' for one. Still they'd be a hell of a lot less interesting as a band if they weren't taking risks like that. 'Journal For Plague Lovers' was a risk trying to recapture 'The Holy Bible' so what does 'Postcards' try to recapture? Well, their sense of confidence. Yeah, that's it. The production is smart and pleasingly lacks the britpop era overdubs. James, Nicky etc sound energetic and Sean Moore has his best album in many a year. The lead single 'It's Not War' is classic anthemic Manic Street Preachers that deserved to be a bigger hit than it was. The album became their ninth top ten album whilst the single barely scraped the top thirty. I like the song, however try counting 2, 3, 4 between the end of every James Dean Bradfield vocal phrase and you'll discover the sheer regularity of the thing. Also, I mentioned stupidly the lack of britpop era overdubs? Partly it's true and partly just because the production sound is ever so slightly cheaper - bar the ominpresent strings of course. They really don't need these strings on every single other song.

    'Hazelton Avenue' has good story-telling lyrics and a great instrumental guitar hook which almost but not quite sounds like a guitar-violin. Could have just stuck a violin in there somewhere, for extra texture? Another couple of songs, could have dropped the strings? You know, drop those strings, try and create an album of variety of some description? Well, they know what they are doing, I suppose. 'Auto Intoxication' is a highlight in that despite the merely chugging guitars, James Dean Bradfield gives it some welly in the vocal department. The album continues in an approximate good song, bad song kind of way. Bad song, the terribly dreary (as you can imagine from the song title) 'Golden Platitudes', good song - the lively 'I Think I've Found It'. Sp, despite some very solid Manic Street Preachers tunes, you don't need this album, not really. They try, the songs are well played, particularly the drumming but everything is too predictable, really.

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    Craig kingswinford
    It seemed like after Lifeblood they sought of went into a bit of cycle - Send Away seemed like Gold Against the Soul with better production, and catchier songs - I still find myself listening to I'm just a patsy - weird how it starts off sounding like a Jon Bon Jovi knock off, but then kicks into an unmistakably Manics anthem. Imperial Bodybags sounded almost rockabilly to me. Then Journal sounded like it bridged the gap between Holy Bible and everything must go, and achieved the same cult status as THB. I get as far as the first 6 or 7 tracks and lose my way by Bathed herself in a bath of bleach. Postcards - this felt like it was trying to be like Send Away, and Everything must go - trying to be a populist album, but failing to grab the generation that bought design for life on mass - that generation's equivalent today buys tinie tempah or [insert stylised hip hop act here]. I thought Some Kind of Nothingness would have been a contender for Christmas Number 1 with the gospel sound, sadly most other people agreed with Graham Norton. Shows how out of touch I am. Who knows where they'll go next? they may finally relent and bow to Richey's wish in the gap betweem THB and EMG and do a Nine-Inch-Nails esque album?

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