Well what can I say that hasn't already been said a thousand times before? Nothing...so I'll say it all again.
This album is possibly the most depressing-yet-uplifting record ever made. The main strength is in the lyrics. My personal favourites can be found on the spittinly angry "Faster", the tear-jerking "4st 7lb", and "Of Walking Abortion", which is both spittingly angry and tear-jerking. It was the last album which Richey Edwards took an active part in writing (by this I mean that he had disappeared by the time Everything Must Go came out, although some of his lyrics were included on it). And it is a true insight into the mind of a man who was beautiful, talented, intelligent and almost insane.
Even if you come close to understanding most of the lyrics, there is still the musical complexity to get past. What the rest of the band do - or did - is take a poem and set it to an incredibly catchy tune, that will never, ever leave your head. Some are scarily cheerful...who else but the Manics would set lyrics about prostitution to an up tempo tune like that of "Yes"? Far from undermining them, this gives the lyrics an extra element of disturbing irony - as if it was needed. James' voice is one of the most emotional you will ever hear on record, and I think that Sean's drumming, which is constantly ignored, disturbs a special mention. He really is world class. And how is it possible that I could have got this far into a Manics review without mentioning the lovely Nicky? As well as doing wonders on the bass, 30% of the lyrics here are his.
In conclusion, if you do not yet have this record then hang your head in shame. Buy. It. Now. It will change your life.