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Still Manic After All These Years - Liverpool Echo, 24th September 2007

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IT'S hard to recognise the Manic Street Preachers as those skinny lads from a small Welsh town who burst onto the music scene nearly 20 years ago. Back in 1991, they combined lyrics of leftist politics, philosophy and high culture with a glam-punk soundtrack, while wearing feather boas, eyeliners and nail var nish.

They definitely weren't your average guitar band.

Now, as they prepare to call into Mountford Hall to promote new album, Postcards From A Young Man, it's hard to believe they're the same band.

"Don't worry," says the band's bass player and lyricist Nicky Wire. "We still hate everyone, but it's not all out war anymore. It's tempered."

The Manics were a group who forced an opinion. Now, they verge closer to dad-rock on the musical spectrum. Maybe they've grown up.

"You can't be angry forever," says Nicky. "But I think we channel the anger in more constructive ways these days.

"The air of nostalgia on this record is defined by our personalities being the same as they always were.

"The nihilism and the vanity of rock 'n' roll - which I think is important to all great music - is still deeply embedded in us, but now there's the faint sense of wisdom that age has brought us, too.

"I'd love to believe in the absolutes, but they don't exist anymore."

The Manics came of age in an era where selling out was the worst possible thing a band could do. Now, we have John Lydon advertising butter and Lionel Richie flogging crisps.

"I knew it was over when I saw Jack White, an indie icon, doing a Coca Cola advert... That just wouldn't be allowed when we were starting out," says Nicky. "In the early nineties you would have been crucified and it'd be career over.

"Now Faithless are selling cars for Fiat and bands are selling their records through Tesco. I understand the realities; there aren't many ways of making money unless you do adverts. I'm glad I saw the good times, because luckily we've never had to go down that route."

Ask him to describe new album Postcards From A Young Man and, quick as a flash, he says, "It's like Van Halen singing Motown, Queen singing songs by Abba."

While music fans perhaps shouldn't have to look to three forty-somethings for their socio-political commentary, there's an air of, 'Well no one else is saying it, so we have to' to the Manics' music.

"We should have been replaced," says Wire, in agreement.

"But there's such a dearth of guitar bands saying something, anything. There's a sense of reality in some urban music, but guitar music? It's truly pathetic.

"I think they're more interested in getting a bargain at Topshop than they are writing about the greatest economic recession we've ever suffered."

Describing Postcards, Nicky says the album was the band's "last shot at mass communication".

He stresses he didn't mean this would be their last album.

"We've thrown everything at this record, and made something genuinely commercial," he offers.

"We're well aware it could connect with people or be a complete disaster. There are no in-betweens.

"It's Not War (Just The End Of Love) is our biggest radio hit in years, and there's a good feeling around, but I just don't know what that means anymore.

"Ask me this in 1999 and I'd have said 'We'll sell a million records'. Now, we could sell 50,000."

. The Manic Street Preachers play Mountford Hall on October 10. Tickets are now sold out.

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IT'S NOT WAR: Manic Street Preachers say their anger is now tempered by the wisdom of age