Manic Street Preachers
Journal For Plague Lovers


5.0
classic

Review

by Liam Whear USER (7 Reviews)
December 17th, 2009 | 18 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A series of images against you and me

The Manics are one of those bands where their history threatens to overshadow the actual music. Bursting onto the British music scene at the very start of the 90s in a blaze of glitter and spray paint, they became legend before they even released their debut album. Yet despite the spitting venom, mindless arrogance, and impossible intelligence, personal issues raged, especially in Britrock icon Richey James Edwards, lyricist and “guitarist”. It was only until 1994’s The Holy Bible that their music was finally taken seriously, the impossibly dark and bleak record becoming the closest anyone has got to finding out the true mechanics of Edward’s troubled mind. A year later, he was gone.

Success quickly (and sadly) followed, with the Manics becoming a far more radio-friendly prospect, Everything Must Go and This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours going double and triple Platinum respectively. After that came an almost decade-long commercial and artistic slump, only to be revived with 2007’s Send Away The Tigers. But that album may as well not exist with this. Journal for Plague Lovers.

It’s certainly a daring as hell album. The most talked about part is the lyrics, all taken from a booklet Richey left the band before his disappearance. Only the Manics could have gotten away with this. Yet do not be mistaken, this is not The Holy Bible 2. Peeled Apples may make you think that as soon as you turn the album on. Much like The Holy Bible, it starts off with a quote, an excerpt by Christian Bale from The Machinist, before an ominous bass emerges, only to be overthrown by shockingly loud snare drums, dirty guitars and James Dean Bradfield’s determined shout. As soon as the poisonous yet anthemic chorus kicks in, one thing is made for certain. Few bands in recent years, let alone the Manics, have sounded so confident and determined as Peeled Apples makes out. Yet when Jackie Collins Existential Question Time, the album’s “single”, kicks in, it is clear that the band never wanted to make a second The Holy Bible. The song is rather light and poppy (that is, until the last 40 seconds, when the song bursts into raging hard rock), much as the majority of the album. The upbeat-ness more recalls critic-favourite Everything Must Go if anything.

Yet the production again contradicts that statement. Richey-favourite Steve Albini is behind the desk, famed for his work on such classic records like Nirvana’s In Utero, PixiesSurfer Rosa and PJ Harvey’s Rid Of Me. And it shows. Though not recalling the crushing density of The Holy Bible, the album is certainly claustrophobic, featuring the classic Albini sound of loud drums, dirty-as-*** guitar feedback and raw vocals. Yet still the album manages to sound radio-friendly and accessible, only helped by the four acoustic songs of This Joke Sport Severed, Facing Page: Top Left, Doors Closing Slowly and William’s Last Words, the former being one of haunting orchestration, the latter, sung by bassist Nicky Wire, being Richey’s final lyric. Despite being drastically cut down from the original lyric, it still sounds like a suicide note, Wire’s tuneless voice still sounding close to tears.

However, despite the acoustic songs and the upbeat pop rock, there still lies a dark atmosphere lurking behind. There are still fearless hard rockers, such as Peeled Apples and All Is Vanity. And of course, there are still the infamous lyrics of Edwards, the familiar disjointed, poetry-like one-liners, still ragingly political, still terrifyingly personal. As the lyrics were written over fourteen years ago, they’re obviously “out of date” (cultural references such as Marlon Brando and Giant Haystacks), yet that’s the beauty of this album.

It’s an album without time. The lyrics are out of date, the sound is one of a time long gone. Yet it still sounds modern. It’s one final look back to the past, a tribute to a burnt out star, a “spiritual successor” of a classic album no one can ever replicate. And the band knows this. That’s why it never tries to be The Holy Bible 2. Yet it’s in full knowing of that album’s classic status. Through the murky guitar feedback and Jenny Saville artwork, it’s an album for the fans. It’s an album that can stand on it’s own. It’s a look over the shoulder, and it’s a look into the distance. It’s an album that doesn’t give a ***. It’s an album of 1994 and 2009.

And THAT, my friends, is why THIS is their comeback.

Highlights
Peeled Apples
All Is Vanity
This Joke Sport Severed
William's Last Words
She Bathed Herself In A Bath Of Bleach



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user ratings (177)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
jordan. CONTRIBUTOR (3.5)
Under Neon Loneliness, CHAPTER 9: “What If a Married Man Fucks a Catholic…?”...

Carter Vance (4)
Despite a few small flaws, the band's best since their mid-90's peak....

Nick Butler EMERITUS (3.5)
Not quite the Holy Bible sequel we were sold, but great all the same....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Titan50
December 17th 2009


4588 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I need to give Daisy another listen, this may have topped that as AOTY

Nagrarok
December 17th 2009


8315 Comments


Great work. Haven't heard this.

Titan50
December 17th 2009


4588 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

you should

Nagrarok
December 17th 2009


8315 Comments


Thought you'd say that. I have already got a lot on my list though, but I'll if I can get to this.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
December 17th 2009


7424 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Excellent review, I pos'd, but for me this is nowhere near a 5 unfortunately. That said, I think the Holy Bible is an extremely overrated album so we're bound to disagree.

EVedder27
December 17th 2009


6088 Comments


A Titan review, great job man. Haven't listened to this band but I've heard great things about them.

Titan50
December 17th 2009


4588 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I think the 5 might just be of the moment. This will probably go down a .5 very soon

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
December 17th 2009


7424 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Judging by your ratings I think you would like them. They are definitely worth getting into, they've got some incredible songs.

EVedder27
December 17th 2009


6088 Comments


alright will do

klap
Staff Reviewer
December 17th 2009


10581 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is a fantastic record

Digging: Charli XCX - Sucker

Titan50
December 17th 2009


4588 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Ignore whatever AliW says about The Holy Bible, it could be the best album ever

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
December 17th 2009


7424 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I know that I'm in the vast minority in not loving it, it just doesn't do as much for me as it does for other people. I would still recommend it though, and Faster is probably my favourite MSP song.

Titan50
December 17th 2009


4588 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

If I was to pick one it would be Faster too. Peeled Apples is probably the best song they've done in a decade

greg84
Staff Reviewer
December 17th 2009


7464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

I've recently bought the physical copy of this album and I'm glad that I've done it. Peeled Apples is one of the best songs of the year.

Titan50
December 17th 2009


4588 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I got the special edition, complete with the unedited lyrics :D

greg84
Staff Reviewer
December 17th 2009


7464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

I have a regular one. The review is obviously a win. I don't get how it is similar to Everything Must Go, but other than that it is a solid review. The good points of references for this album is, besides Holy Bible, Know Your Enemy which features similar offbeat punk tracks (among many others).

Asiatic667
December 18th 2009


4648 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Me and Stephen Hawking kicks ass. Album is great, though not as great as generation terrorists or Everything must Go. I just wish Bag Lady wasn't hidden about five hours into the last track, because it's actually one of the best tracks on the album, imo.

Titan50
December 18th 2009


4588 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Bag Lady is an awesome track, just too THB for me



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