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|2. The Love Of Richard Nixon|
|3. Empty Souls|
|4. A Song For Departure|
|5. I Live To Fall Asleep|
|6. To Repel Ghosts|
|9. Always / Never|
|10. Solitude Sometimes Is|
|12. Cardiff Afterlife|
The album's lead-off single, the disco-lite "The Love Of Richard Nixon", is a meandering dud--but luckily it's book-ended by a couple of strong tracks: the string-laden "1985", which both sings the praises of The Smiths and quotes Nietzsche, and "Empty Souls" (with its "Collapsing like the Twin Towers/ Falling down like April showers," couplet one of the few tracks here that boasts that good ol' Manics trait of near-to-the-knuckle motor-mouthing). Quality elsewhere is variable there's a couple of tracks here so inoffensively beige we won't waste words but it's worth hanging around for "Cardiff Afterlife", a sweet closer decorated with harp and vibraphone. --Louis Pattison
Ok, so 'Nixon' is appalling and unlike a lot of reviewers I'm not so keen on '1985' either; just because it namecheck's Morrissey and is as political as they dare get on this album it doesn't turn my head. Indeed, the fact that will distinguish this from all Manic albums is the number of tracks where Nicky Wire seems to be telling us how he is feeling, rather than what he is feeling or reading or complaining about. Such a lyrical honesty probably hasn't been seen by a Manic since 'Ocean Spray' by Bradfield, or Richey's works that straddled 'THB' and 'EMG'.
'Empty Souls' stomped live, but tiptoes in the studio, a lilting track with echoey piano and a faint riff underlying the song with more than a nudge towards 'Motorcycle Emptiness', 'A Song For Departure' will surely be listened to by partners everywhere who have just loved and lost and on 'Emily' the listener is left wondering if Wire respects Pankhurst (the suffragette martyr) or if he is writing her a love letter. Still, this album has arguably everything right that was wrong with the last two studio efforts, and if 'Nixon' can nearly get to No.1 against one of the strongest chart toppers of the year, then surely anything is possible in this remarkable but unsurprising reinvention.
The Manics have stopped trying to recreate 'Motown Junk' (and they are getting a bit old for such buzzsaw heroics), and have instead made 'This Is My Truth - New And Improved & Feat. 110% More Emotion'.