Manic Street Preachers - Postcards from a Young Man - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Manic Street Preachers - Postcards from a Young Man

by Andy Brown Rating:7 Release Date:2010-09-20

Last years Journal for Plague Lovers was a pleasant surprise for any Manics fan- a great new album that was as good as anything they've ever done. Using Richey's lyrics was clearly a wise move; a decision that seemed to inspire some of Bradfield's finest tunes and riffs since Generation Terrorists. If Journal was billed as a follow up to The Holy Bible then Postcards from a Young Man appears to be the valley boys attempt to recapture some of the melancholic stadium glory of Everything Must Go. Whether you enjoy Postcards or not may depend on if you're a 'Bible lover or more of a 'Must Go appreciator. Personally, I love them both so had high hopes that Postcards would be as pleasant a surprise as Journal.

Lead single '(It's Not War) Just the End Of Love' kicks things off in suitably anthemic style- it's a pretty good track. Strings sweep and Bradfield bellows, the lyrics mention revenge and regret and there's a decent solo; despite this it's not really up there with 'Enola/Alone' or 'A Design for Life'. The album does have some pretty impressive and suitably grand sounding strings throughout though. Bradfield had mentioned in interviews that the strings on Echo & the Bunnymen's Ocean Rain in particular were an influence and indeed the 'ones to beat'. It's perhaps less of a surprise then to find the Bunnymen's Ian McCulloch, crooning along with a gospel choir on one of the albums highlights- 'Some Kind of Nothingness'.

The Manics were never just about the music however and it's difficult not to feel slightly disappointed with Nicky Wires lyrics after being treated to the literate ravings of Richey's notepad only last year. That's not to say the lyrics are bad or anything, Wire has always been more direct than Richey and this album is the Manics attempt at 'mass communication' after all. I mean you can't imagine Richey writing, "I fell back in love with love, I know that it might sound odd" like on 'Golden Platitudes' or indeed enjoying it's mid-paced stadium soul. On 'Hazelton Avenue' Bradfield sings "yes I worship at the alter, I am a happy take me back to Hazelton Avenue". A nostalgic, melancholic tune about simpler times 'Hazelton Avenue' definitely mirrors some of the lyrical themes covered on Everything Must Go.

'Auto-Intoxication' sounds a bit more like a track from Journal and benefits from its sense of restless urgency, complete with one of Bradfields' Holy Bible-era, wiry sounding solos and 'singing-in-a-phone booth' production. Plus it kinda sounds like Pink Floyd for a couple of minutes too. It's a definite highlight but not really representative of what's on the rest of Postcards. 'I Think I Found It' almost sounds like The Waterboys while 'All We Make Is Entertainment' is perhaps the Manics being honest with us and themselves, all to a pleasingly lighters-aloft tune. Nicky takes the vocal lead on 'The Future Has Been Here 4 Ever' and as on 'Williams Last Words' it's a welcome addition.

Postcards from a Young Man is an album designed for stadiums or at least big, communal venues. Knowing the Manics at their best can pull off the feat of stadium-rock with heart and soul I was hopeful that Postcards From a Young Man would have me wiping tears from my eyes and singing along at the top of my voice after a couple of listens. The truth is that Postcards is more of a mixed results Manic Street Preachers album. The songs aren't really up there with Everything Must Go- missing the palatable sense of anger and hurt that made the album a rare example of stadium-sized-rock with heart to match. They sound confident (like they were ever shy and retiring) and the album has some pretty impressive and huge sounding tracks yet as a whole it's not on a level with the triumph that their last album, Journal for Plague Lovers, turned out to be.

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