17 October 2013

Manic Street Preachers - Postcards From A Young Man

As part of the Manic Street Preachers' discography that we’re reviewing as a collective I’ve been given their tenth studio album Postcards From A Young Man. This is the only album I didn’t previously own so I was looking forward to hearing it though I wasn't expecting too much. Whilst I consider myself a Manics fan I’m one of the ones who think they hit their peak with The Holy Bible and haven’t come close to it since. A lot of their stuff released after that I’ve disliked intensely.

Prior to the release of Postcards From A Young Man the band claimed this album would be full of ‘radio hits’ and, stylistically, would be kind of like a heavy metal Motown.  Now there’s an eyebrow raiser if ever I heard one. It’s not particularly accurate either, though I can see why they said it. Several of the songs feature a gospel choir and some of the arrangements of a couple of songs, particularly the title track, have a definite old school feel to them.

What Postcards From A Young Man has that the previous albums don’t is hunger. A vitality that the band haven’t shown ever since Richey Edwards disappeared. They sound like they’re actually having fun.

The opening track, and lead single off the album, is (It’s Not War) Just The End Of Love is one of the best songs the band have released in the last decade or so. It kicks off with an anthemic string section which fades into a plucked guitar riff that’s reminiscent of A Design For Life, before bursting into a great chorus. It sets the precedent for the rest of the album rollicking rock songs intertwined with lush strings and the aforementioned gospel choir. Even the song they let Nicky Wire sing (The Future Has Been Here 4ever) isn’t horrible, Album closer Don’t Be Evil another classic up-tempo song with an infectious chorus, it sounds like it could easily have been on their second album Gold Against The Soul.

There are several guest on this album but only one is really noticeable; Ian McCulloch (from Echo And The Bunnymen) sings on the third song Some Kind Of Nothingness, John Cale plays keyboards on Auto-Intoxication and Duff McKagan (formally of Guns N’ Roses) plays bass on A Billion Balconies Facing The Sun. As I said though, you’d never know the latter two were there.

Postcards From A Young Man is a great record and is the album they should have made in 2004 instead of the lacklustre and ironically titled Lifeblood.  I hope they can keep it up.
7 out of 10 - This is good and well worth a check
Listen to it on Spotify HERE
Buy it on Amazon HERE
Visit the bands website HERE
Watch the video for (It's Not War) Just The End Of Love HERE

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