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Difference between revisions of "The Ultra Vivid Lament Review - The Scotsman - ★★★☆☆"

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| Publication = The Scotsman
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| Publication = NME
| Date  = Friday 3rd September 2021
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| Date  = Thursday 9th September 2021
| Writer =  Fiona Shepherd
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| Writer =  Josh Williams
| Rating = ★★★☆☆
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| Rating = ★★★★☆
 
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Thirty years on from their messy, punky, spraypainted birth, Manic Street Preachers have thoroughly embraced rock’n’roll middle age by producing their first album of songs written on piano. They can still muster an erudite lyric, a dexterous guitar solo and a striking, poetic album title, but The Ultra Vivid Lament sounds like a composite of their most MOR moments to date.
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'''How do you grow older but stay fresh, and be both populist and polemical? The Manic Street Preachers' latest has a determined go at both'''
 
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Opening track Snowing in Sapporo is pleasant, easy listening with winsome sentiments and glacial synths. The blithely upbeat single Orwellian marries a funky, bouncy bassline to deadly serious lyrics on language, debate and culture wars where “it seems impossible to pick a side,” while Don’t Let the Night Divide Us is a call for solidarity (“don’t let those boys from Eton suggest that we are beaten”) in the guise of an Abbaesque 70s pop song.
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Apparently inspired by a gifted piano from frontman James Dean Bradfield’s elderly neighbour, the album sits on the same wavelength as the albums Know Your Enemy and Rewind The Film. This is by no means a bad thing.  
 
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It’s mildly – very mildly – subversive stuff and, as always, you might learn something while absently humming along. For example, The Secret He Had Missed imagines a conversation between sibling artists Augustus and Gwen John as a Eurovision duet with Sunflower Bean frontwoman Julia Cumming.
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Opening track ‘Snowing In Sapporo’ is a mystifying middle of the road anthem with Nicky Wire’s imagery coming through in the lyrics while single ‘Orwellian’ comes across a little, to quote the Simpsons, “old man yells at cloud”. Featuring Sunflower Bean’s Julia Cumming, ‘The Secret He Had Missed’ feels like a darker ABBA song with Bradfield and Cumming trading vocals – there’s also the obligatory Welsh reference here with the lyric “left your heart on the beach in Tenby”.  
 
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Frontman James Dean Bradfield has further fun with the impish use of 80s soft rock guitar riffing on Quest for Ancient Colour. The Manics are not really a minor key band these days – but it’s straight faces on again for the implicit desolation of Blank Diary Entry, a suitably moody noir pop duet with the shadowy singer Mark Lanegan.
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Those expecting classic Manics anthems or even harder entries into their thirty-plus-year canon will probably be a tad disappointed, but there’s plenty here for even those fans with some of Wire’s finest lyrical work for quite a few years. Musically, the album is a delight but misses the mark at times, such as on the country-infused ‘Into The Waves of Love’. Closing track ‘Afterending’ however, hits the spot nicely to sign off with.
 
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Revision as of 00:08, 10 September 2021

The Ultra Vivid Lament



Publication: NME
Date: Thursday 9th September 2021
Writer: Josh Williams
Rating: ★★★★☆



How do you grow older but stay fresh, and be both populist and polemical? The Manic Street Preachers' latest has a determined go at both

Apparently inspired by a gifted piano from frontman James Dean Bradfield’s elderly neighbour, the album sits on the same wavelength as the albums Know Your Enemy and Rewind The Film. This is by no means a bad thing.

Opening track ‘Snowing In Sapporo’ is a mystifying middle of the road anthem with Nicky Wire’s imagery coming through in the lyrics while single ‘Orwellian’ comes across a little, to quote the Simpsons, “old man yells at cloud”. Featuring Sunflower Bean’s Julia Cumming, ‘The Secret He Had Missed’ feels like a darker ABBA song with Bradfield and Cumming trading vocals – there’s also the obligatory Welsh reference here with the lyric “left your heart on the beach in Tenby”.

Those expecting classic Manics anthems or even harder entries into their thirty-plus-year canon will probably be a tad disappointed, but there’s plenty here for even those fans with some of Wire’s finest lyrical work for quite a few years. Musically, the album is a delight but misses the mark at times, such as on the country-infused ‘Into The Waves of Love’. Closing track ‘Afterending’ however, hits the spot nicely to sign off with.