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From Despair To Here - i-D, May 1996

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Title: From Despair To Here
Publication: i-D
Date: May 1996
Writer: Susan Corrigan
Photos: Julian Broad


"What price now, for a shallow piece of dignity?" Indeed. The release of A Design For Life, the Manic Street Preachers' first post-Richey single, can’t help but inspire curiosity in its most morbid form. Obviously the three remaining Manics - James Dean Bradfield, Sean Moore and Nicky Wire would prefer not to be seen as 'survivors' because of nostalgia and pity, things to be avoided by the forward-looking. So, onward. Their enforced absence and decision to continue as a three-piece has lent the Manics the sort of traditionalist, sentimental gravitas most in the music industry would sell their grannies for, but coasting on past achievements or relying on fans’ charity just wouldn't be in keeping with the group's spirit So. with great pleasure, we must report that A Design For Life puts paid to any suggestions that the Manic: might limp along as a sad parody of their former solves. A great wash at strings, Phil Specter-esque drums and sweeping, raw vocals: the new single indicates a turn away from the spikiness of The Holy Bible, back to the AOR sub-version oi earlier material. This seems pre-meditated, a conscious decision to return to a musical time and place which existed before the Cult of Richey, before so many of us became amateur psychologists. Caught up in the depression of an enigmatic figure few - even all the self-confessed media depressives - could hope to understand. A Design For Life is the Manics' new, improved design for living then let's welcome them back, talk about love instead of getting drunk. and give Nicky, James and Seen the glory they deserve instead of the sympathy vote.