Manic Street Preachers: Rewind the Film

Fri, Sep 6, 2013, 00:00


Rewind The Film

Manic Street Preachers



Sentimental nostalgia is not something you usually associate with Manic Street Preachers. The Generation Terrorists are usually more at home spitting out Guy Debord quotes and raging about class war. But in this, their 11th studio album, there’s more than a hint of menopausal Marxist.

There’s scarcely an electric guitar to be heard on this understated, acoustic-based collection. We’re far from The Holy Bible-era polemical pomp as the band enter – as they so grandiosely put it themselves – “the last great phase of Manic Street Preachers”.

On paper, a mellowed out acoustic Manics might sound perverse and repellent. But Rewind the Film will go down as one of their great works. Instead of ploughing on as a “remember us” Britpop heritage act banging out self-parodying new material, they’ve found a new plough to furrow here – and brilliantly so.

The first single, Show Me the Wonder, is the busiest and loudest track on the album. It’s a trumpet-driven affair in which they return to their Welsh redoubt to pause and reflect on all that has transpired over a picaresque career. The real highlight, however, is the title track, an elegiac duet with James Dean Bradfield and Richard Hawley entering into Under Milk Wood mode as they look back on childhoods lost.

The sonic bluster may be on holiday, but the Manics’ trademark romantic despair is all over 3 Ways to See Despair, while their politics inform the bile-splattered 30 Year War, which deals with the Thatcher legacy and the hateful cover-up of the Hillsborough footballing tragedy.

They even throw in their most autobiographical song to date on Running Out of Fantasy, which obliquely references why they started, why they did what they did, and what still keeps them together.

The Manics’ “last great phase” may have opened with this beautifully crafted and hushed summation and self-analysis. but their next album (recorded simultaneously with Rewind the Film and due out in a few months) is a Krautrock-influenced affair.

As Ms Jean Brodie would so correctly note: the Manics are very much in their prime.