Album Review: Manic Street Preachers – Journal For Plague Lovers

September 11, 2009

Dude, reverse the 'r's. Makes it edgy and stuff.

Concept: Welsh political rockers release their first album to feature lyrics exclusively by rhythm guitarist Richey Edwards, who has since vanished.

Sound: There’s an 80’s arena rock feel to the melodies, although the backing instruments would beg to disagree. Manic Street Preachers have a tight grip on their hooks and know how to use them, as well they should after fifteen years in their craft. This is perhaps the strongest statement on the album; the accomplished musicianship here is a sign of gratitude towards Edwards, and relies on this positivity.

Lyrics: The lyrics of this band are perhaps some of the most overrated in modern music. While forthright, the observations are far from analytical or enlightening or even funny. They often appear to be no more than convoluted puns (Mommy, what’s a sex pistol?/Overjoyed, me and Stephen Hawking, we laugh./We missed the sex revolution/when we failed the physical,) and individual songs often have such discrepancies in topic that the only sane conclusion is that there is no connection, save for the tone of rebellious commentary. This is not typical of their material, but there was never any particular wit in their work to begin with, and this album’s meanderings only uphold the group’s reputation for honesty because they seem innocent in a senile way. Maybe I don’t get it. Maybe the guys who wrote this are political geniuses.

Quick And Dirty: If you enjoy their work, this is some of the very best of it, and a subtly emotional conclusion to their struggles behind the scenes. That’s a context that the album itself doesn’t explicitly contain, though. I maintain that the overt messages are as awkward as the music is catchy. (♦♦♦)


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