Review Summary: Under Neon Loneliness, CHAPTER 11: “Hide All Lowry’s Paintings…”PART THREE: Middle Age/Rage
Middle age is a daunting time for all in Occident Society; with it comes responsibility, the generalized lack of excitement, the ‘crisis’, and most importantly the abandonment of youth as you realize that half of your life has already been confined to history. No other band were ever as youthful and energetic as the Manic’s were for all 20 years of their career, and 2013’s Rewind the Film
is halting confrontation of middle age and its implications. Observed now through the removal of electric guitar and addition of experimental instrument use, Nicky Wire goes into his despair mode to purge himself of youth and dread for what comes of a man now on the wrong side of 40.
For the most part, this isn’t the hotel-room smashing Manic’s we know and have come to love. Less, it’s a coyer sound that makes even This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours
appear positively electrifying. There’s really no better way of saying it- this is not energetic by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s not bad either by said description. Numbers like the Lucy Rose duet “This Sullen Welsh Heart” and the Richard Hawley duet on the title track mine midlife crisis for all its worth, with the sludgy made-for-Morrissey “3 Ways to See Despair” being the sole appearance of the White Custom Gibson Les Paul, all experiencing rather placid but enjoyable runs. The same can be said of the forward looking “(I Miss the) Tokyo Skyline” and “30-Year War”, with flashes of synth and razor sharp lyricism on the latter serving to highlight boredom in a way the other tracks struggle at. Arguably though, it’s the Campfire strum along “Show Me the Wonder” that impresses the most, in part down to its uplifting melody and simplistic structure not present throughout the record.
This isn’t the album many Manic’s fans wanted nor one that impresses much either (“4 Lonely Roads” deserves honourable mention for being one of the bands worst songs yet), but it is one that was necessary. As many Manic’s fans one day approach their middle-age, it’s good to see careful reflection in their music as opposed to rampant sloganeering and ‘4REAL’ incidents.
The journey has been difficult and arguably it’s never fully realized its potential, but amongst the glam punk scene that birthed them, the distressed camo-kit that gave them their status and the eventual reality of it all that deserved them success, the Manic Street Preachers have never failed to make something that was in some way engaging, likeable and thoroughly unconventional. As James Dean Bradfield, Nicky Wire and Sean Moore continue on with the spirit of Richey Edwards ever present, they’re a band whose career is now rightfully justified as one of the finest in 21st Century Rock & Roll.
…to be continued…