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Comfortable Hymns - Westfälische Nachrichten, 19th April 2018

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Title: Comfortable Hymns
Publication: Westfälische Nachrichten
Date: Thursday 19th April 2018

For 25 years, the Manic Street Preachers have rioted as a left-wing rock band with intense songs of world-weariness and rage. Also, the new album contains some massive stadium anthems, but exudes more conservative cosiness. Where does the path of the Manics lead?

The Manic Street Preachers have always been an explicitly leftist, progressive rock band - that's one side of the coin. On the other hand, in Britpop there is hardly a more conservative troupe than the "manics", as the trio is affectionately known by its many fans.

Unlike more flexible contemporaries like Radiohead or Blur, James Dean Bradfield (vocals and guitar), Nicky Wire (bass) and Sean Moore (drums) have been largely faithful to their anthemic stadium sound for more than 20 years. On the 13th studio album since the socio-critical debut "Generation Terrorists" (1992), the Welsh are now taking their as comfortable as frustrating computability to the extreme.

The twelve songs of "Resistance Is Futile" (of course, resistance is futile) should overwhelm again and be groaned in big arenas from the bottom of their lungs. The Manics do not use subtle means to do that - with bombastic arrangements full of choral songs that aspire to the heavens, and guitars that are touchingly old-fashioned against the often-propagated death of guitar rock.

Some new pieces - such as the opener "People Give In" or "Distant Colors" - sound like slightly faded images of the really great songs of the album "This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours", with which Manic Street Preachers in 1998 led the album charts. One almost has the impression that "Resistance Is Futile", after more experimental works such as "Rewind The Film" (2013) and "Futurology" (2014), should be a tribute to the most successful record of its own history.

He considers it "ridiculous when bands constantly say that they never want to repeat themselves, reinvent themselves, and so on," Bradfield admitted frankly in an interview with German Rolling Stone. And almost defiantly added, "We're best when we sound like Manic Street preachers. That may not be super cool and modern, but I like it. "

Bradfield points out that his voice is also very concise and "quite distinctive" - ​​which is why you have to provide unusual duets for variety. In the past, for example, Nina Persson (The Cardigans) or German star actress Nina Hoss, who had to stand up to the powerhouse vocals of the Manics front man - this time a Welshman with the alias name The Anchoress in Dylan &Caitlin, one of the better tracks of the new album, very respectable.

Once the Manics mourned in melancholic songs of the loss of their depressive guitarist Richey James Edwards, who disappeared without a trace in 1995 and 2008 was declared "probably dead". Then they played angry battle songs against exploitation, intolerance and warmongering. Now the melodies are still powerful and startling, but many things seem stale - and above all: You've heard it better from the Manics.

Songwriter Wire is also aware of the band's aging process: "Sometimes I wish we had the self-confidence and rage we had at 22," he told Rolling Stone. "But behaving like 49 at the age of 22 would be too embarrassing, and I would like to maintain some dignity."

Was it possible with Resistance Is Futile? On the next tour with stadium appearances, the new songs should definitely have their appeal. Speaking about the Manics audience and their own condition, singer Bradfield speaks with British humor: "Okay, we already have viewers with artificial hip joints, but at least we still have viewers." And "the older ones would understand, if I had the breath goes out".