There are two quite distinct, but not very distinctive, guitar solos in the fifth of the 18 tracks that comprise the debut album from the most hyped rock band of the past 12 months, Manic Street Preachers. The song is the single "You Love Us" — and it's typical of the rest of the fare on offer on "Generation Terrorists" (Columbia).
In other words It's standard, infectious, hard-edged rifling coated in radio-friendly power-punk and about as threatening as a four-year-old with a water-pistol. And since The Manics (The Preachers?, The Street?) live for the threat that they pretend they are, it's like saying that they sound like The Osmonds in a bad mood.
Inventing an attitude, and tarting it up with music that bands like Eater and Slaughter and The Dogs used to put on their B-sides 15 years ago, hardly heralds the dawn of a new era in rock. Self-inflicted arm wounds, self-destructing gigs after just a couple of numbers ("in an orgy of nihilistic fury", according to the press release) and self-flagellation during their courtship of the music press (the New Musical Express put all its money on the band last year: last week it had no choice but to award the album "ten out of ten") is no substitute for the real thing.
"Out of a deadend industrial backwater — Blackwood in South Wales — Manic Street Preachers were pissed off with nowhere to go but London." That's the press release's opening salvo.
Continuing with what it terms the band's "condensed hell vision of The Stones, The Who, Pistols and Clash" it drops a few contemporary names just in case someone mentions the term "revivalists". So we're told that The Manics were "thinking only of Public Enemy and Guns 'n' Roses. Sick of cliched rock 'n' roll, their songs of culture, alienation, boredom and despair lit up a love-struck capital".
And after all that nonsense — and some of the wimpiest music you've ever heard — from a bunch of self-styled generation terrorists, much of what's on offer is quite good in a simplistic sort of way.
Some of the tracks are standard soft-metal — which, of course, is totally inexcusable from any band at any time — but since most of them pack some sort of childish sonic punch and boast cartloads of risible lyrics, they can only be good for us all in the long-term.