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'Journal' Gives Preachers Solace - Chicago Sun-Times, 27th September 2009

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Title: 'Journal' Gives Preachers Solace
Publication: Chicago Sun-Times
Date: Sunday 27th September 2009
Writer: Michael D. Ayers

Just weeks before original Manic Street Preachers guitarist Richey James Edwards mysteriously disappeared in 1995, he turned over a handful of journals to his bandmates.

Passages from those pages now make up lyrics on the band's ninth album, "Journal for Plague Lovers."

While the Manic Street Preachers have enjoyed a successful career since Edwards' untimely departure, lead singer James Dean Bradford concedes they knew they'd make this record one day but needed time to process the events.

"I think we're blase people in a sense," Bradford says. "We come from working-class backgrounds from south Wales; we don't buy into any notions of closure and catharsis. But therefore, I think we were taken a bit when we started recording. It was nebulous; something that grabbed at you and you couldn't quite explain it."

"Facing Page: Top Left," "Williams Last Words," and "Pretension/Repulsion" highlight Edwards' posthumous set of songs, which Bradford says revolves around "the fallout of [1994's album] 'The Holy Bible.'

"A lot of the lyrics are at peace with themselves," Bradford adds. "There's a feeling of serenity. We knew we had to represent that on the record and there was going to be a softer side to it that 'The Holy Bible' didn't have."

The nature of Edwards' disappearance has been a mysterious one, to say the least -- he and Bradford were supposed to fly to the U.S. on Feb. 1, 1995, for a promotional tour, but Edwards never made it. He was officially presumed dead in November 2008. While Bradford and company have been sitting on these lyrics for 14 years, he says they've always planned to use them someday.

"I remember looking at these lyrics before he disappeared and remember thinking 'I don't know if I can use these,"' he recalls. "We were left with a clue to his feelings through these lyrics; I've gotten them out from time to time, but always thought 'I can't do it.' For various reasons: emotional and academically, I didn't feel that I could do them justice for a long time. But the overriding thing was that he left us with these and we felt that he wanted us to do something with them."