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Wire On Record - The Western Mail, 17th September 2010

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Title: Wire On Record
Publication: The Western Mail
Date: Friday 17th September 2010


As the Manic Street Preachers prepare to release their 10th album, Postcards From A Young Man, band bassist Nicky Wire reveals the inspirations behind each track.

1. It's Not War - Just The End Of Love
A song of duality. The fabric of our creativity remains the same - anger, injustice, love, passion and emotion. But we now try to harness it in a more positive way. We may be 40, but the furies remain. Strings like the Bunnymen's Silver; like a Who song written in the '60s but recorded now; Keith Moon drums; Alex Lifeson guitar solo - euphoric. A statement of intent.

2. Postcards From A Young Man
Could be on Everything Must Go - the sound of South Wales. It's about the beauty and tactile nature of old postcards - I've kept all the postcards that Sean and James sent me when I was at uni. We were prolific communicators. Every time you got the post there would be a bundle in there with a collage or a poster. It's about nostalgia and youth, it's sentimental but it's also real. And it's a great Manicsy title. The album's working title was It's Not Love, Just The End Of War, but this just suits it perfectly, like the Tim Roth image on the cover. We grew up with Made In Britain and King Of The Ghetto. It's just very Manics.

3. Some Kind Of Nothingness
This is a majestic duet with Ian McCulloch (of Echo And The Bunnymen). It follows a fine tradition of those duets with Nina Persson, Traci Lords and Dame Shirley Bassey. There's a gospel choir with massive strings and a volcanic ending. It combines Ocean Rain's (Echo And The Bunnymen album) Spector soundscapes.

4. The Descent (Pages 1 & 2)
Magic moments in the Vancouver sun on the tour bus. It's a poem turned into music - early Oasis - George Harrison guitars. It's about trying to hold on to dignity and meaning against the inevitable changes you face with age and the chorus feels like vintage Mott The Hoople.

5. Hazelton Avenue
Perhaps the lightest moment on the album. Written in Toronto wandering around feeling solitude in a beautiful way. There's a joy of simplicity. It's a great riff song - the best since Motorcycle Emptiness. There are Philly soul strings and a Beatles middle section that is also quite Toxic (Britney Spears) 6. Auto-Intoxication It's about a medical condition where the body's organs poison their own system. We tried to marry glam-era Bowie with a Neu! Drum beat - chorus is pure Quadrophenia. It features Wales' own John Cale on piano.

7. Golden Platitudes
The oldest song and something of a lyrical centrepiece. I've said it's The Beatles on steroids. It's a pre-election dissection on New Labour. It's about the abandonment of the true working classes by its own party. Dennis Wilson was a big influence - River Song. I was obsessed with the chord sequence of Back For Good by Take That. I threw the kitchen sink at it - choirs, orchestra.

8. I Think I've Found It
This was written by James in Tenby with a hangover. James met Mike Scott on a plane and he remembered a letter James had written to him as a fan 20 years ago. It was really sweet, hence The Waterboys' feel.

9. A Billion Balconies Facing The Sun
It's based a little on the writings of John Gray (The LSE professor, not the bloke who wrote Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus). I suppose what he does is philosophy for the masses, which is no bad thing. I've done a bit of Kantian ethics at uni. It's impossible to understand. John Gray is saying, essentially, we're busier than we have ever been, but deep down, we know everything we do is useless. And the internet is a world where you can be as vile as you like about people and there is just no consequence, no comeback.

10. All We Make Is Entertainment
It's Wellersque (Paul Weller) in it's lyrical anger - could be subtitled The Selling Off Of Cadburys. It's about Britain's insatiable desire to off load and destroy anything it makes - the ultimate irony of the banks being a nationalised industry. The last thing we are any good at, i.e. music and entertainment, we are quite happy to let it be destroyed.

11. The Future Has Been Here 4 Ever
This features a plaintive trumpet performance from Sean. He's such a lovely trumpet player and we wanted some of it 'cos it sounds great. He'd been listening to Fela Kuti and Hugh Masekela - and it's a kind of lucky charm with reference to Kevin Carter. It's The June Brides played by the Rolling Stones. And I think I'm singing better than I have done before.

12. Don't Be Evil
This started out as a homage to television. It's about the elitism of advertising, the smugness of technology and the folly of internet friendship.