Review Summary: He who controls the past controls the future
History hangs over the Manic Street Preachers more than most bands.
Be it their combative early days, the disappearance of Richey Edwards or the strong body of work they’ve released while still in their erstwhile guitarist’s shadow, MSP have remained stalwarts of British music despite any number of accidental or self-imposed obstacles.
Their most recent records have leaned very heavily upon the concept of history and the self-imposed mythology that surrounds the Welsh trio. Journal For Plague Lovers
in essence put the ghosts of Richey away in a box, Postcards From A Young Man
spoke of a group of men coming to terms with the present while Rewind The Film
was akin to a OST love letter to a life well lived.
But one of the reasons MSP remain so popular and vital is their steadfast refusal to rest on their laurels. Futurology
wraps up the ideals of what has come before it, mixed it with their present experience and forged ahead with songs that demonstrate a group with a lot more life in them yet.
There’s plenty to be pleased about here. The album’s eponymous opening track acts as a mission statement (“We’ll come back one day/We never really went away/One day we will return/No matter how much it hurts.”), before melting slowly and sweetly into songs like “Walk Me To The Bridge” and “Let’s Go To War”; combining 80’s New Wave stylings with an off-kilter stream of energy that has always been with MSP.
It’s these anchors to the past that provide the album’s best moments. The seeming obsession with Old Europe and nation state power structures remains and fully evident in the sprightly “The Next Jet To Leave To Leave Moscow”. Similarly, “Europa Geht Durch Mich” carries these themes over thudding bass, alarms and a drum beat like a jackbooted army heading to war.
MSP’s old glam rock leanings reappear too. “Sex, Love, Power and Money” rides on the crest of a riff that wouldn’t be out of place on Generation Terrorists
. “Dreaming A City (Hugheskova)” and “Mayakovsky” are high-octane sci-fi instrumentals that call to mind the sight of Prince Vultan and his winged soldiers flying into Ming’s fortress.
Between all of this and the funk-driven “Misguided Missile”, the quiet introspection of “Divine Youth” and the wonderfully schizoid closer “The Last Time I Saw Paris”, there really is something for everybody here.
History is a fable written by the victors. It’s been a long war but the Manic Street Preachers have always been in control of their own destiny.