As a long time Manics fan I'd have bought this album regardless of the reviews on here. And I certainly wasnt dissapointed.
It has been said 'Journal For Plague Lovers' is a return to the 'old manics' and is in a similar vein to their masterpiece 'The Holy Bible'. It is easy to see how you can make these claims. All the lyrics are by missing since 1995 lyricist Richey Edwards, just one look at the lyrics could affirm this. The album coverart is also by the same artist (Jenny Saville)whose work was used for The Holy Bible cover.
But despite all this its unfair to call this album The Holy Bible mk2. Its a far more personal album - while the bible was often political and has tracks about the Holocaust this album is more focussed on an individuals feelings. The lyrics are still pretty dark however, and not particularly radio friendly. The music is perhaps more akin to the music on that album than any of their other recent efforts, but is more polished, the sound of a band that know their stuff.
I dont pretend to understand all that Richey writes about, although final track Williams Last Words could perhaps have all too clear a meaning...personally I find it a track that brings a tear to my eye, but most of the songs still have a catchiness that will have you revisting this album time and time again. There are no weak links here.
This album shows the Manic Street Preachers are still a fantastic band (and their recent performance at T in the Park definately confirmed this) who aren't afraid to try something different, and are not out just to sell mindless millions of records. With their last album, Send Away the Tigers, they were also on form and this cements their position as one of the most though provoking bands to ever come out of Britain.
A fitting tribute to Richey Edwards, im sure he would have thought highly of the music put to his lyrics here.
Lets hope they continue making such brilliant records.