Friday, August 24th, 2007
Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
Manic Street Preachers have got it tough, simply because they still exist. There are those who resent them for not splitting up after their first album Generation Terrorists as they’d boldly promised to do before its release and there are those who resent them for carrying on after volatile songwriter/guitarist Richie James Edwards disappeared in 1995. And there are those who resent them because, well they – well, mainly Nicky Wire – are kinda dicks and often talk major amounts of shit about other UK bands, even if they themselves are some years removed from the peak of their creative powers.
But love or hate them, you can’t argue that they’ve always had a knack for writing superb, anthemic rock songs that may be pretentious and unwieldy but are never dumb. Their recent albums have been rather patchy but always featured at least one song that made the price of admission worthwhile – 2001’s Know Your Enemy was overlong and underfocused but “So Why So Sad” was and is a classic and while 2004’s Lifeblood was decent if overly slick, “Empty Souls” would have been a standout on any of their albums. Which brings us to their latest, Send Away The Tigers, just given a North American release last month.
Thankfully, it has more teeth and a much bigger sound than its predecessor and seems like a conscious effort to recapture the hard rock energy of their younger days and it works – Tigers positively roars out of the speakers. But when James Dean Bradfield declares “This one’s for the freaks” in “Underdogs”, I can’t help wondering if there are still any freaks who’re still listening to the Manics or if their fanbase has grown up and discarded the accouterments of youthful rebellion in favour of more adult trappings. Pure speculation on my part, of course. Also on the demerit side, the cover of John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero” tacked on as a bonus track also sounds overly forced and melodramatic. Those complaints aside, Tigers is the most satisfying Manics album this century, and even if it wasn’t, even if the whole album was Nicky Wire haranguing Snow Patrol for 40 minutes, its existence would be justified solely for the first single.
“Your Love Alone Is Not Enough” is one of the year’s very best singles and one of the Manics’ best ever. The lyrics aren’t especially profound or poetic (though they cleverly quote The Who, Pink Floyd and the Manics themselves) and musically it’s simply open chords and a basic riff you couldn’t really call a hook, yet I happily hit repeat over and over and over again – why? Two words – Nina Persson. The combination of the Cardigans frontwoman and Bradfield, still possessed of one of the best voices in rock, is so unbelievably potent that they elevate everything around them into four minutes of sonic bliss – even when Wire’s croak shows up on backing vox near the end. Sublime, and possessed of that ineffable quality that defines a classic pop song. And even if the Manic Street muse is no longer as consistent or the band as relevant is it once was, as long as they keep producing tracks like this one every few years, I will happily welcome every new Manics CD into my collection.
Wilco just wrapped up a tour of western Canada, leaving a trail of rocked asses, chicken pox and media clippings in their wake. 24 Hours, The Georgia Straight, The Vancouver Sun and Edmonton Journal all scored face (or phone) time with a Wilco member. Sign On San Diego asked to Nels Cline about the pox on his house (and face) and The Santa Barbara Independent talked to Glenn Kotche about recording Sky Blue Sky with the new, expanded band lineup.
Exclaim! talks to Rolf Klausener about The Acorn’s lovely and ambitious new record Glory Hope Mountain, out September 25. Contrary to previous reports, the band will not be in Toronto on November 16 as part of Exclaim’s Wood, Wires & Whiskey tour – Elliott Brood will be playing that show at Lee’s with guests TBA – but they do have their own show on November 24 at the Horseshoe.
Josh Ritter, who just released his Historical Conquests Of… this week, will be in town on September 26 for a show at the Drake Underground. Listen to the opening track from the record below and read Ritter waxing affectionate for his homtown of Moscow, Idaho to An Aquarium Drunkard.
The Radio Dept has been mighty quiet of late, but they swear they’re hard at work on their third album. As a distraction, they’ve begun making old, rare material available to download, starting with their 2002 EP Annie Laurie. Grab it via Megaupload.com right here.
AOL Music Canada declares that album art is not dead, and offers up its picks for the best album covers ever. Beware Of The Blog is also celebrating album art through the ages, though only of the naked variety.