Hmmm, I dont know. Im 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 its nice to see something from there doing well. Of course, theres also all the Newport bands from just down the road as well doing it, so theyre not quite as unique as some people will have you believe. And Im pleased, because they have put out some excellent stuff. As well as some crap. And this? Straddling. Of course its different to how they started out. Of course theyve moved on. And of course, as Im sure the inkies will tell you, theyre now mature. Does mature equal good? Errrrrr. Theres some stuff on here that just doesnt 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, itll get compared to the earlier material. Im someone who, as a general rule, likes energy in music, and the energy levels here are noticeably different. So Im 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 its what we know, and its what we feel should be embraced? Because as admiral as those sentiments might be, theyre incorrect. See, for me, this still doesnt touch the Sophia album for sheer emotional weight. But people dont know Sophia. So, it wont be embraced for the wonders it presents, because its not an old friend.
This feels safe. It doesnt 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 doesnt ultimately say whether its as good as the material they have put out in the past. For me its not.
Things start off with The Everlasting which seems a good indicator of the direction. Its a mature acoustic led track, which isnt 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 thats a problem. Pattern. Theyre good songs, but they are following a blueprint. There again, so did all their old stuff, its 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 its 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. Its 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 Manics fan, youll 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 cant 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, theyre being as contrary as ever, by releasing something that isnt like the old stuff. But that doesnt necessarily mean its good just because its difficult.