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Manic Episode - Leicester Mercury, 30th September 2004

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Title: Manic Episode
Publication: Leicester Mercury
Date: Thursday 30th September 2004

A cursory glance over the Manic Street Preachers' current playlist promises exciting things for the forthcoming single and album. Indeed, only good can come from a band which is listening to such aural extremes as ABBA, New Order, U2, Bowie, Jamelia, Fleetwood Mac and the Scissor Sisters, to name but a few.

Whatever the outcome, the important thing is there is now only a few weeks left before the Manics' highly-anticipated return to public life.

First, there is the new single - the gorgeously-titled The Love of Richard Nixon - and then the long-player, Lifeblood, at the beginning of November.

The three-pronged attack will be complete with a massive gig at Nottingham Arena on Saturday, December 11, as part of a Christmas tour.

Buy your tickets now - you know it will be good.

Much is now expected of the Manics, who have grown over the past decade from post-punk revivalists to stadium-filling purveyors of angry anthemic pop-rock.

The unfocused anger of their youth - witness Love's Sweet Exile (1991) - has been focused by maturity, but without losing its powerful voice.

The Manics truly broke into the mainstream with Everything Must Go, their fourth outing and, ironically, the first following the disappearance of member Richey James.

When released, it received overwhelmingly positive reviews and included the number two hit A Design for Life, a call to arms for the working classes which hailed the possibilities of the welfare state.

Everything Must Go also, perversely, established the Welsh three-piece alongside other premier bands of the day, such as Oasis. That position was consolidated with the release of This is My Truth Tell Me Yours in 1998, best remembered for the single If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next, which topped the British chart.

Growth from credible indie guitar heroes to seemingly pompous rock elite is a dangerous road to take. Anyone remember the band James? Guitarist and lyricist Nicky Wire is typically forthright.

He said: "After Everything Must Go, we thought there'd be a backlash, but I think we're the people's band.

"I feel like that more than ever, the size of the gigs we've done, the amount of stuff we've sold," he said.

Such self-belief has always been a key element in the band's style.

Mid-way through their second decade, they have realised most of their ambitions. What is going to be difficult is maintaining the momentum.