Manic Street Preachers - This Is My Truth, Tell me Yours

Hmmm, I don’t know. I’m kinda pleased for this band to have gotten where they are. They come from just over the valley from where I was born and brought up, so it’s nice to see something from there doing well. Of course, there’s also all the Newport bands from just down the road as well doing it, so they’re not quite as unique as some people will have you believe. And I’m pleased, because they have put out some excellent stuff. As well as some crap. And this? Straddling. Of course it’s different to how they started out. Of course they’ve moved on. And of course, as I’m sure the inkies will tell you, they’re now mature. Does mature equal good? Errrrrr. There’s some stuff on here that just doesn’t do it for me. It sounds bland, and whether the band likes it or not, or whether any band likes it or not for that matter, it’ll get compared to the earlier material. I’m someone who, as a general rule, likes energy in music, and the energy levels here are noticeably different. So I’m struggling a bit.

A part of me nags. If this is what they had released to start their career, would it be received with quite the same adulation? Use the energy to gain a name, maturity to gain respect. Or is it that sometimes we simply embrace because it’s what we know, and it’s what we feel should be embraced? Because as admiral as those sentiments might be, they’re incorrect. See, for me, this still doesn’t touch the Sophia album for sheer emotional weight. But people don’t know Sophia. So, it won’t be embraced for the wonders it presents, because it’s not an old friend.

This feels safe. It doesn’t matter that I say that. Many more important, and more articulate people than I will have waxed lyrical on the intrinsic meaning of this album, the validity and whatever else. But that doesn’t ultimately say whether it’s as good as the material they have put out in the past. For me it’s not.

Things start off with The Everlasting which seems a good indicator of the direction. It’s a mature acoustic led track, which isn’t far removed from tracks like Design For Life from the Everything Must Go album. And If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next follows the same pattern. And that’s a problem. Pattern. They’re good songs, but they are following a blueprint. There again, so did all their old stuff, it’s just that was a different blueprint, and probably one that I find myself more comfortable with.

You Stole The Sun From My Heart sees the band veer off back towards the rock territory which dominated much of their earlier work, but it’s still different from that material. More controlled and mature.

Ready For Drowning, is one of the songs again that is modern Manics. More introspective. I dunno, I could just say that about every song on here. It’s a cop out way of reviewing. Be Natural starts with a great riff, but kind of looses impact for me. Tsunami gets under the skin after a few listen, but shows maturity in terms of the sitar being used. You know that when a band progresses to using the sitar we are talking media favourites and “mature”. There seems to be something about that instrument that gets journalists frothing at the mouth in bouts of frantic excitement to pour superlatives over the soul and emotion of the music.

Ultimately, if you listen to it long enough, and are an old Manic’s fan, you’ll eventually get the songs, or get TO the songs. Because you recognise the familiarities of the band. Bradfields vocals, the structure. The same as with any band that you like.

Just can’t help but feel that the pretentious words that are being spoken about this band by “people who know what they are talking about”, yeah right, means that more is being made of this than is necessary. And for wankers like me who seem to recoil at something when mass critical acclaim is poured on it, it means that an album, and band, has to ultimately prove more than it should need to in order to win my favour.

In their own way, they’re being as contrary as ever, by releasing something that isn’t like the old stuff. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good just because it’s difficult.