What does it sound like?:
26 years in and they’re still going. Still releasing albums of commitment, passion and energy laced with thoughts and musings on dignity, self-empowerment, in-justice, and forgotten Heroes and Heroines.
They came in on a bubble of hype and expectation, found a core (if niche) audience with two further releases, and then re-invented themselves (after the loss of Richey Edwards) as the enfant terrible of Stadium Rock (with a bit of socialist politics thrown in).
They then had a third incarnation where they stripped back the political posturing, strapped on a Gibson and rocked out with ‘Send Away The Tigers’.
If I’m honest, whilst the period between ‘Everything Must Go’ and ‘Lifeblood’ may have been the most commercially successful, it was also not as interesting or bombastic as the incarnations before and after.
There’s no denying, the Manics are now the elder statesman of indie-rock, but they’re not letting up, and ‘Resistance Is Futile’ is another valid addition to their catalogue.
There are moments when the lyrics smack of 6th Form Poetry, you feel they’re being too wordy or the trope of whacking on a string section start to become predictable, but these are minor gripes.
This is unmistakably the Manic Street Preachers – did you really expect anything else?
The album doubles-up as a stand-alone statement, and a canter through their past.
You get echoes of ‘Everything Must Go’ (“People Give In”), ‘Generation Terrorists’ (“International Blue”), ‘This Is My Truth … Tell Me Yours’ (“Distant Colours”), ‘Send Away The Tigers’ (“Liverpool Revisited) and ‘The Holy Bible’ (“Broken Algorithms”).
But always sounding committed and like they want to be doing this and they just might have something to say, or they want to get off their chest.
“Vivian” re-treads the ground of “Kevin Carter” (from ‘Everything Must Go’) by celebrating the life of a relatively unknown photographer (Vivian Maier).
There seems to be a thread of Male/Female duets going through Manics albums of the past, and this one is no different – a vocal share with Welsh vocalist The Anchoress, on a song about the relationship between Dylan Thomas and Caitlin Macnamara (unsurprisingly called “Dylan and Caitlin”).
Again, this one has echoes of the past evoking “Little Baby Nothing” from ‘Generation Terrorists’ whilst tying it to a string section that sounds remarkably close to “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”.
In a recent interview, Nicky Wire stated that it is not easy to get the word “Totalitarian” into a song. Whilst he may not have got that word in, he does lever in the word “Conquistador” on closing track “The Left Behind”. A song with a slower, almost lazy backing, and a Nicky Wire vocal (I never considered NW to be the most adept vocalist, but in this song it works).
What does it all *mean*?
The quality of their output dipped a bit at the turn of the millennium, but they found the Quality Control button in 2007, and they’re still pressing it.
Goes well with…
Might suit people who like…
(stoopid question, and obvious answer)