Thursday, December 31, 2009

Albums of the Year, 2009 : 19 - Manic Street Preachers - Journal for Plague Lovers

"The most obvious echoes of The Holy Bible lie in the feral lunge of "Peeled Apples", the murky swamp of "She Bathed Herself In A Bath Of Bleach" and the splenetic, kinetic "Marlon J.D.", as metallic and abrasive as the edge of a rusty razor blade. But some of the softer songs pack just as much gut punching impact: just hear the chiming, childlike refrain of "Jackie Collins Existential Question Time" or the aching vulnerability of "This Joke Sport, Severed". This record knows as much about sadness as it does about fury.

Inevitably, much attention will be paid to Edwards' rescued lyrics, which showcase both his formidably eclectic intellect (the searing "All Is Vanity") and his weakness for slogan-happy showboating ("Pretension/Repulsion", as ungainly and blustery as its title, and with music to match.) But the most moving moments are when the music resonates in perfect sympathy with Richey's worldview, as on "William's Last Words", where the awkward sentimentality of the lyric and the even more awkward Nicky Wire vocal somehow create something both beautiful and truly, truly heartbreaking.

A record as sincere, complex and emotionally loaded as "Journal For Plague Lovers" probably warrants lengthy polemics and dissertations as much as the snapshot of a pop review. Well, they will come along soon enough: for now just know that this is something unique, often flawed and often flooring, and as fine and fitting a memorial for its lyricist as could be imagined."

- Jaime Gill,

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