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.