Thursday, May 17, 2007

Send Away The Tigers - Manic Street Preachers

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You don't tend to associate the Manics with the frivolous, but during a recent appearance on Soccer AM of all places James Dean Bradfield and Nicky Wire came across really well, even going so far as to admit that the only thing their solo outings had taught them was that solo albums don't sell many copies.

So of course this new album was inevitable and it was also inevitable that little would change in the Manics world. The thumping guitar riffs are still in full force, there are still those more mellow moments and the lyrics are ever so slightly political.

But therein lies the problem with the Manics in the 21st Century...are they relevant to today's audience? It's a problem many bands who are genuine superstars at one point in time face in their later years but whilst this may not quite be the critical re-awakening of, say, Pet Shop Boy's Fundamental, it goes a certain way to proving that the Manics are right not to give up the fight.

The spike and drive of their earlier days is back to the forefront, especially with the ubiquitous anti-war songs, and for the most part its welcome. Rendition is one of the highlights of the album, as is the slightly "Green Day meets Robbie Williams" vibe of Imperial Bodybags although the lyrics of either don't withstand too much close inspection.

As if to prove "pop" is not off their radar as well, the lead single with Nina Persson, Your Love Is Not Enough is a good one too. Indeed there is something endearing about a band who champions the fact they've worked with the lead singer of The Cardigans, Kylie Minogue and Traci Lords.

It's perhaps becoming a cliché to say that this is their best album since 1996 and whilst that may say more about what has come inbetween this and Everything Must Go it does show glimmers of the old magic and that may be enough for long-term fans this time around. It's not going to overshadow the classics but for a little while at least you start to believe in the Manics once again.

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