Thursday, 17 September 2015

Manic Street Preachers albums

The albums are described in the order from the oldest to the newest one. Obviously my opinions are totally subjective, but I have tried to point out the songs that should be universally impressing – they are labelled as “unforgettable”.

Generation Terrorists (GT), released in 1992 – my rating: 5/10
(music-only rating: 8/10)
1. Musically very good and energetic (rock only) album but the lyrics are mostly too controversial or rebellious to me.
2. From 18 tracks on the album 5 made it to my favourite list. I declined the rest mostly because of the lyrics.
3. There are 3 unforgettable songs: Motorcycle Emptiness, Stay Beautiful and Little Baby Nothing. The first one is very climatic – I would call it Manics’ anthem. The second one and the third one should be listened one after another – lyrically they complement each other perfectly. They are respectively about men and about women and they are both true and quite critical of both sexes (more of men).
4. The remaining 2 tracks on my favourite list are: You Love Us and Methadone Pretty.

Gold Against The Soul (GATS), released in 1993 – my rating: 4/10
(music-only rating: 8/10)
1. Musically very good and energetic (rock only) album but the lyrics are mostly too controversial or rebellious to me.
2. From 10 tracks on the album 3 made it to my favourite list. I declined the rest mostly because of the lyrics.
3. There is 1 unforgettable song – La Tristesse Durera. It features one of the most enjoyable guitar solo I have ever heard. Fantastic!
4. The remaining 2 tracks on my favourite list are: Sleepflower and Roses in the Hospital.

third album (I will not even name it), released in 1994 – my rating: 1/10
1. Utterly unbearable album to me – by far too dark, both musically and lyrically.
2. From 13 tracks on the album 0 made it to my favourite list.
3. Most of the lyrics were written by a band member who suffered from depression and was a drug addict. He disappeared some time later – probably committed suicide, but the body was never found.
4. I've read a very short review of this album with which I fully agree: “This album is not much of an album at all. It's scattered lyrics are so incoherent that they are a perfect compliment to the horrible instrumentation. This album is barely listenable, and it is far too dark for anyone who wishes to stay sane to listen to repeatedly.”
5. The fact that Manics (to be precise the missing band member) titled the album the way they (he) did doesn’t help either, to say the least. I am a religious person and I think that mocking a religion (any religion) is pathetic. Thankfully Manics 8 years later (in 2002, without that missing band member) released a beautiful single titled There by The Grace of God. It’s good to see that even such a controversial band like the early Manics can change over time and look at some things from a different perspecitve.

Everything Must Go (EMG), released in 1996 – my rating: 6/10
(music-only rating: 9/10)
1. Musically very good and very diverse. Lyrically much less controversial, but still too little positive.
2. From 12 tracks on the album 5 made it to my favourite list. I declined the rest mostly because of the lyrics.
3. There is 1 unforgettable song – A Design for Life. The strings in this song are simply beautiful.
4. The remaining 4 tracks on my favourite list are: Australia, Everything Must Go, Enola/Alone and Interiors.

This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours (TIMTTMY), released in 1998 – my rating: 7/10
(music-only rating: 9/10)
1. Musically simply beautiful, but lyrically too depressing. Hardly any positive songs. There are no classic-rock songs on this album – the first such album by Manics.
2. From 13 tracks on the album 6 made it to my favourite list. I declined the rest mostly because of the lyrics.
3. There are 2 unforgettable songs: Black Dog on My Shoulder and If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next. The first one features strings and one whole minute at the end of the song is purely instrumental. BEAUTIFUL. The second one features thrilling music with strong lyrics. From what I remember it’s the first Manics’ song that I have heard and recognised as theirs. Later I realised that I had heard Motorcycle Emptiness before that, but didn’t remember the name of the band.
4. An honourable mention goes to My Little Empire. It’s not really unforgettable, but it’s still one of my favourite Manics’ songs. When I listen to this song I always think that James Dean Bradfield is just toying with his guitar in between the lyrics. And the lyrics themselves are enjoyably ironic in the second part of the song. Cool track.
5. The remaining 3 tracks on my favourite list are: You Stole the Sun From My Heart, Be Natural and Ready For Drowning. The last one is an example that sometimes Manics’ lyrics can’t be fully understood without a comment. There is a line (repeated several times) “So where are we going? We're not ready for drowning.” It turns out that it’s “about the town of Capel Celyn which was drowned to supply water for Liverpool in the 60s. Families who had relatives buried in the cemetery were given the option of either moving them to another cemetery, or leaving them. Consequently, eight bodies were disinterred (…).” (I quoted a comment posted by Smileydogdanceon on the site http://songmeanings.com.)

Know Your Enemy (KYE), released in 2001 – my rating: 7/10
(music-only rating: 7/10)
1. Musically and lyrically very diverse. It’s like 3 different albums mixed together.
2. From 16 tracks on the album 7 made it to my favourite list. I declined the rest mostly because of the music (most of them feature electric guitars making noise rather than music, which gets irritating really fast).
3. There are 3 unforgettable songs: Epicentre (it sounds like a whole orchestra playing), Miss Europa Disco Dancer (great fast basses combined with a harp) and The Convalescent (a quintessential Manics song – energetic, bold, a little political, a little personal, with a great chorus humming at the end).
4. The remaining 4 tracks on my favourite list are: Found that Soul, His Last Painting, Royal Correspondent and Let Robeson Sing. The last song features a fragment of a poem Freedom Train by James Langston Hughes, recited by Paul Robeson himself. Here’s the fragment used in the song:
Now let the Freedom Train come zooming down the track
Gleaming in the sunlight for white and black
Not stopping at no stations marked coloured nor white
Just stopping in the fields in the broad daylight
Stopping in the country in the wide open air
Where there never was a Jim Crow sign nowhere
And no lilly-white committees, politicians of note
Nor poll tax layer through which coloured can't vote
And there won't be no kinda colour lines
The Freedom Train will be yours
And mine


Lifeblood (L), released in 2004 – my rating: 7/10
(music-only rating: 10/10)
1. Musically even more beautiful than TIMTTMY. Lyrically it’s more melancholic than depressing, but I must admit that when I was younger I didn’t see the difference. There are no classic rock songs on this album just like on TIMTTMY.
2. From 12 tracks on the album 6 made it to my favourite list. I declined the rest partly because of the lyrics and partly because of the music.
3. There are 2 unforgettable songs: I Live to Fall Asleep (beautiful melody fitting the lyrics perfectly) and Empty Souls (incredibly chilling sounds).
4. The remaining 4 tracks on my favourite list are: Glasnost (great lyrics with very good music and incredible gentle guitar solo), Fragments (unique instrumental parts), Solitude Sometimes Is (unique instrumental parts), and To Repel Ghosts (ghostly sounds fitting the lyrics perfectly).
5. All of the songs mentioned above in my opinion are among the best Manics have ever produced, but I must point out that I needed some time to appreciate them. The last song that I grew to like very much is Empty Souls. Originally I ignored it, just because of the title (and the relevant lyrics), but after I saw the video for this songs (nine years after it was released!) I was blown away. The video fits the lyrics (and the music) perfectly.

Sand Away The Tigers (SATT), released in 2007 – my rating: 9/10
(music-only rating: 9/10)
1. Almost perfect album – great rock music and very good and quite positive lyrics!
2. From 10 tracks on the album 8 (EIGHT – 80% !!!) made to my favourite list. I declined the rest partly because of the lyrics and partly because of the music.
3. There are 3 unforgettable songs: Your Love Alone is Not Enough (great music with great lyrics, featuring also Nina Persson of The Cardigans with her great voice), Indian Summer (great rock ballad with energetic melody and quite positive lyrics) and Autumnsong (fun lyrics with great music and great guitar solo).
4. An honourable mention goes to The Second Great Depression. It’s not really unforgettable musically, but it’s still one of my favourite Manics’ songs. The refrain gives a very positive message:
I thought about it a million times
When you and me did nothing but smile
Remember all those days
I thought about it a million times
When you and me did nothing but smile
When forgiveness was the best
Just forget about the rest

The song is truly about depression. Someone I know who suffered from depression told me something that is literally written in the lyrics:
I can't believe I let it happen.
5. The remaining 4 tracks on my favourite list are: Rendition, Imperial Bodybags, I’m Just a Patsy and Send Away the Tigers. They are very close to the unforgettable songs, really.

Journal For Plague Lovers (JFPL), released in 2009 – my rating: 2/10
1. All the lyrics were written by that missing band member (they used his old lyrics and written music for them). They are mostly far from my liking.
2. From 13 tracks on the album 2 made it to my favourite list. I declined the rest mostly because of the lyrics.
3. There is 1 unforgettable track: Marlon J.D. There are great guitar riffs and interesting lyrics referring to a scene from a film with Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor titled Reflections in a Golden Eye.
4. The remaining track on my favourite list is Peeled Apples.

Postcards From a Young Man (PFAYM), released in 2010 – my rating: 9/10
(music-only rating: 9/10)
1. Lyrically and musically very good. There are many lyrics I truly like and many songs with great guitar parts.
2. From 12 tracks on the album 8 made it to my favourite list. I declined the rest partly because of the lyrics and partly because of the music.
3. This album is a "grower" - I like it more and more every time I listen to it. Originally I rated it 7/10, but later I bumped my rating up to 8/10 and now I rate it 9/10. It's mostly because I never get tired of the songs I mention below.
4. There are 3 unforgettable songs: Golden Platitudes (beautiful rock ballad with great lyrics), A Billion Balconies Facing the Sun (very energetic rock song with strong lyrics) and I Think I Found It (quite positive lyrics with electric guitars combined with a mandolin).
5. The remaining 5 tracks on my favourite list are: Postcards From a Young Man, Don't Be Evil, It's Not War Just the End of Love, All We Make is Entertainment and Auto Intoxication.

Rewind The Film (RTF), released in 2013 – my rating: 10/10
(music-only rating: 10/10)
1. Musically simply beautiful and lyrically perfectly fitting to my state of mind (calm and settled). I must admit that I wouldn’t enjoy it so much if I were younger.
2. From 12 tracks on the album 12 (TWELVE - 100 % !!!) made it to my favourite list. The whole album is perfect. I enjoy the lyrics of every single song, which is a miracle.
3. There are 4 unforgettable tracks: Show Me The Wonder (very lively song with strong trumpet parts), (I Miss The) Tokyo Skyline (fun lyrics with interesting music – I don't know how to describe it but it seems to me that the tuning of the song seemingly keeps rising forever), Rewind The Film (incredible musical composition with surprisingly positive feeling, considering the lyrics) and 30-Year War (great music with bold lyrics).
4. The remaining 8 tracks on my favourite list are: This Sullen Welsh Heart, Builder of Routines, 4 Lonely Roads, Anthem for a Lost Cause, As Holy as the Soil (That Buries Your Skin), 3 Ways to See Despair, Running Out of Fantasy and Manorbier.
5. The album is quite melancholic, but not depressing. I would say it’s rather positive in a way that makes me even more calm and peaceful. I would call it an album for long winter evenings, but in fact it feels great even in summer. To me the album is a state of art – a true masterpiece.

Futurology (F), released in 2014 – my rating: 10/10
(music-only rating: 10/10)
1. Musically simply superb and unique - great energetic rock with a strong futuristic feeling, combined with some slower and calmer tracks. Lyrically very good – not really controversial, sometimes angry, at moments quite personal, but mostly true and insightful.
2. From 13 tracks on the album 12 (TWELVE - 92,3 % !!!) made it to my favourite list. The whole album is perfect - I declined one song just because I wanted my favourite list to have a number of songs that can be divided by 3. (Guess why.)
3. There are 4 unforgettable tracks: Black Square (great music with fantastic lyrics - "Let us overcome our endless progress" ... "When every single day you’re haunted by perfection" ... "Let us dig our own graves, Let us choose our own wars and make our own mistakes" ... "Free yourselves from the tyranny of objects"), Walk Me To The Bridge (great guitar riffs with strong lyrics referring to a suicide friend), The Next Jet To Leave Moscow (beautiful music with ironic personal lyrics) and Sex, Power, Love and Money (extremely enjoyable musical beats with lyrics that I enjoy for personal reasons).
4. The remaining 8 tracks on my favourite list are: Futurology, Let's Go to War, Europa Geht Durch Mich, Divine Youth, Dreaming a City (Hughesovka), Between the Clock and the Bed, Misguided Missile and The View from Stow Hill.
5. Already after the second listen of the full album I consider it a masterpiece! It has never happened to me with any album by Manics! Great job! Only Manic Street Preachers can release so different, yet so fantastic albums one after another. Futurology takes all the best from all their earlier albums and it is the most universal Manics album. Perfect!

(Thursday, 10 July 2014; modified for the last time on 8 August 2015)

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