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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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Mine has been a very long love-affair with the Manic Street Preachers, stretching back to the release of The Holy Bible in 1994 which was, and remains, one of the most startling, eye-opening, brilliant albums ever released. Like every love affair, when it turns into a long-term relationship, there are ups and downs and, sometimes, the object of your affection sometimes behaves in a way that you don't particularly appreciate, but, if there is something deeper there, you still love them anyway. The honeymoon period (“Everything Must Go”) saw that giddy love go on unabated. Then, although everything was still pretty wonderful, little signs that they were going through the motions started to creep in (“This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours”). Then there was the big row that almost led to a trial separation (“Know Your Enemy”) and, although they promised to change, what came afterwards (“Lifeblood”) was only a brief glimpse of what used to make us such a suitable pairing. After a few years apart, our worlds collided once more in a spectacular way (“Send Away The Tigers”), we had a second honeymoon which almost felt as blissfully good as the early days (“Journal For Plague Lovers”) and we've been inseparable ever since, as they continue to delight and vindicate my love with excellent album (“Postcards From A Young Man”) after excellent album (“Rewind The Film”). I feel ashamed for ever have doubting them. Despite a few people raising their eyebrows and saying that they'd moved into pipe and slippers territory with their last record, to me it was a beautiful piece of work full of depth, versatility and maturity... and I loved them all the same, together with their laughter lines and the grey hairs dyed away. Their music still holds the key to unlocking this sullen English heart.

Their dazzling new album, “Futurology” is almost the polar musical opposite to “Rewind The Film” and proves something they really didn't have to prove, that they still have the ability to excite, to surprise. The fire is still burning relentlessly in their creative hearts and this, as a result, is a big album in every way. Although it is, without doubt, a Manics album through and through, it has a very different feel to it, with discernible Krautrock influences and late seventies/eighties style synths; a sound that, combined with the quality songwriting and powerful hooks, could win them an army of new fans. It may even be the record to win over those people who didn't consider themselves to be Manic Street Preachers fans before. “Futurology” kicks off with the title track, which, although being perfectly enjoyable and includes one of those trademark James Dean Bradfield guitar riffs between lines in the chorus, is certainly one of the lesser songs on the album and may give a false impression of the quality of the whole project. The real cream begins on “Walk Me To The Bridge” which, despite Nicky Wire's explanation that he was describing himself and the pressure of being the band within the lyrics, is too close to the Richey Edwards story and all of the surrounding emotions to ignore that interpretation of the song. Whatever the song means (and I think people will make up their own minds), it's a blindingly good quiet verse/explosively loud chorus track and an instant Manics classic. “Let's Go To War”, with a riff and melody line borrowed partly from Greig's “In The Hall Of The Mountain King” is a deliciously dark, infectious piece, a call to arms for the working class to reclaim their broken dreams; it's nothing short of magnificent.

The beautifully honest “The Next Jet To Leave Moscow” sees a wry Wire tearing his younger self apart for the gestures that seemed empty and naïve (“So you played in Cuba/did you like it brother?/I bet you felt proud/You silly little f---er”), but perhaps he should be a little easier on himself. I don't think it's naivety to share the frustrations of a generation, to dream of ideas and solutions and, let's face it, not all of us have our entire body of work under such a microscope that comes with being the Manics' lyricist. I first heard “Europa Geht Durch Micht” (translation: Europe passes through me) in April 2014 at one of their live shows and it's as startling and striking on record as it was when I sat there transfixed by their hypnotic performance at the Brighton Centre. Militaristic, relentless and detached, yet somehow addictive and irresistible (especially that klaxon), it utilises the purposely dispassionate vocals of Nina Hoss to perfect effect. The solitary song on “Futurology” which could have easily fit in on “Rewind The Film” is the sublime duet with Georgia Ruth, “Divine Youth”, which provides an oasis of calm right in the middle of a jaggedly powerful album. It is a rather melancholy, defeated piece full of life-weariness and cynicism, but it is undoubtedly beautiful. “Sex, Power, Love and Money”, on the other hand, is a big brilliant brute of a track, reminiscent of late seventies pop-punk bands such as The Undertones and The Buzzcocks, as well as a little dash of The Rolling Stones' “Undercover Of The Night”.

The Berlin influences continue with the uplifting “Dreaming A City (Hughesovka)”, an instrumental that tips its hat to the vocal-less compositions on Bowie's trio of albums, but specifically the more upbeat instrumental moments on “Low”. It does, however, have a little touch of Jean-Michel Jarre to it as well, resulting in a more wholly European sound, rather than simply Teutonic. Hughesovka (or, rather Yuzovka) is also the original name of Donetsk, where Welsh miners were shipped by industrialist John Hughes. So, just by scratching below the surface of this instrumental, you're given a history lesson; in fact, you get the impression that between them and Gruff Rhys, they will eventually educate the world about all things Welsh. “Black Square”, with its early eighties-influenced sound, carries on the connection between Manics songs and the art world, with several profound quotes referenced. It's not the best moment on the album, but it's certainly interesting. Scritti Politti's Green Gartside takes lead vocals on “Between The Clock On The Bed” and, although he often sounds distractingly like Lenny Kravitz (which may be handy if they ever bring back Celebrity Stars In Their Eyes), which is almost a tribute to the man himself, electronic drums, light synth sounds and all. It's a decent song, but the album then cries out for something strident and memorable to counter a couple of musically lightweight numbers. This comes with “Misguided Missile”, a beauteous but mighty slice of Krautrock-influenced Manics, resplendent with memorable chorus, understated guitar solo and self-loathing lyrics.

The album ends on a high note, both figuratively and literally with, “The View From Stow Hill”, a superb, if painful, song about the “crushed dreams” of the Newport communities and the “misguided tweets” and “sad Facebooking” of its people and then the second instrumental, “Mayakovsky” (which references The Beatles' “Helter Skelter” with the opening shout of “I've got blisters on my fingers!”) which somehow, through music, conveys optimism and hope. It's odd, but there are very few Manic Street Preachers albums I have enjoyed it from start to finish, without any reservations, but “Futurology” is one of those elusive pieces of work. The bonus disc on the deluxe edition which contains all of the demo versions of the track on the album is well worth hearing, plus it also contains a few songs that didn't make the final line-up, including an excellent composition, “The Last Time I Saw Paris”, which arguably really should have. Is this the Manic Street Preachers' masterpiece? I really cannot go that far. It's certainly brilliant, but “The Holy Bible”, “Everything Must Go” and “Journal For Plague Lovers” are arguably more wholly compelling releases, all for different reasons. However, “Futurology” can be easily spoken about in the same terms because, whilst this excellent and wildly creative collection of songs cannot surpass such a high benchmark, it's quite clearly one of the best albums they've ever made and they deserve every single bit of acclaim and praised lavished upon them for this one.
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on 22 November 2014
I am by no means a hardcore Manic Street Preachers fan. I love a lot of their stuff, but a fair amount also leaves me unmoved. But "Futurology" is an absolutely awesome album and is their best, in my opinion, since "Everything Must Go". Quite honestly a band that has been going for over 20 years and that is releasing their 12th studio album has no right to produce such wonderful music. But that is what the Manics have done. The influences from Krautrock, "Low" era David Bowie and early Simple Minds are all evident. But they are mixed superbly with James Dean Bradfield's trademark guitar licks. My favourite tracks are "Walk Me To The Bridge" (the first single), "Dreaming A City (Hughesovka)" and the gorgeous "Black Square". However, the quality hardly lets up at all. I highly recommend this album to any fan of quality rock music.
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on 10 July 2014
The manics have an intellect, philosophy and song writing ability second to none. This album is simply the future as I see it and aptly named . What else do you expect from the nicest down to earth talented guys in music? Europa geht durch mich in particular is a ruthless ear worm with Nina Hoss adding drive and authenticity to the vocals. The song is still going round and round and around in my head !! The album is rich in classic Manics tracks with wonderful subtlety supplied with heavy techno beat in the best traditions of kraut rock. This album proves beyond doubt that they keep innovating and never went away. So my advice is to buy it, live a little and don't be told by the music industry what to like.
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on 20 January 2015
How this band manages to keep going all these years later is incredible. This is a stunning record and shows great maturity all these years later. To be able to keep doing it, is a lesson to all the one hit wonders, the manufactured nobodys, the performer only singers who have got no musical and/or song-writing skills, and all those other bands who quickly faded from view because they weren't good enough or worse they've got or had nothing to say for themselves.

MSP, with or without Richie, are the best Welsh band by a mile. Feeder and Stereophonics are still in their shadow. What I liked about this though is the idea that a band can still have fresh ideas and re-invent themselves 20 years or so after they burst onto the scene.

'Walk me to the Bridge' is top drawer song, and the others here don't disappoint either. The problem now will be how do they follow this? This got rave reviews, all these years later... watch this space...
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on 7 July 2014
Unlike many other big bands, the Manics do not just churn out the same album year in year out. What you have here is the counterpoint to the resigned, weary beauty of rewind the film. This is a fiery, angry album that sticks a middle finger up to everyone as the welsh wonders set about setting fire to expectations with a set of Bowie meets Krautrock meets Goldfrapp meets Simple Minds chaos. It really is something to behold. For me it is the best album they have done in a long time, perhaps even since Everything Must Go.
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on 7 July 2014
Fresh, but unmistakably manics. This is an album highly influenced by krautrock and there is plenty keyboard goodness in here. However, there are plenty of awesome guitar squeals and smart lyrics in here too. Even if this album isn't for everyone, you have to respect this band for trying something new, but it's hard to imagine many people not liking Futurology a little bit
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on 13 August 2014
I bought the early stuff but have not listened to anything new for many years until I saw the band interviewed on TV, the radio and I was hooked again! I have been listening to Futurology whilst on holiday and at first listen I wasn't sure but 2 weeks later the album has grown on me. Lot's of variety and intrigue. I have rated it 5 star as it does grow on you which is always a good sign and it is an album I will keep coming back to - each time I find new elements to the tracks. Well worth buying.
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on 22 February 2015
I’ve listened to this album so many times now that it’s starting to get a bit old to me, so it’s probably a good time to knock out a review and detail the best tunes, the most interesting lyrics, and the overall themes, and lasting impressions made by the album.

My own association with the Manics goes back to their prime years in the 1990’s when they were producing fiercely intellectual polemics against everything and everybody. This culminated in their nihilistic, screaming into the abyss nightmare/masterpiece ‘The Holy Bible.’

In 1994 Richly Edwards, their intellectual, philosophical, moral, political, lyrical leader disappeared, and everything changed.

From that point on it has been a slow slide into compromise and middle class/suburban sadness and nostalgia for the remaining Manics. ‘Everything Must Go’ gave them their big success, but to me it was a deeply depressing album, a resignation from the extremism, an acknowledgement that they could never go that far again. From there it has been hit and miss, a carefully crafted career rather than a suicide mission.

The band used up some remaining Richey Edwards lyrics in the Holy Bible retread album (and correctly titled) ‘Journal For Plague Lovers,’ which briefly brought me back to them, but since then I have paid less and less attention to the Manics.

Futurama shouldn’t have interested me at all, but the excellent reviews caught my eye, so I took a chance, and purchased the album, not expecting much, but hoping for the best. I’ve spent a couple of weeks with the album now, listening to it a lot more than I thought that I would, and I’m ready to share a few thoughts about it.

First off, the tunes are excellent. They are exploding with creativity, vibrancy and (most importantly) sing-along hooks. This album feels like it took some time to produce, and it really does have some memorably hooky moments that will stay in your head all day long. There’s probably too many of those moments to mention here, they really are that frequent, but one of my favourites was the self-lacerating chorus (Yes, I realise how appropriate that phrase is in the context of a Manics review) ‘The next Jet to Moscow,’ with lyricist Nick Wire mocking his own socialist failings, compromises, contradictions and hypocrisies.

That theme of recognising that your life long held political ideology has been tested and shown to be false is a central theme of the album as a whole.

This is the Manics album where Nicky Wire admits that all of that Marxist stuff of his youth was total and utter bulls***. It’s taken him some time to get there, but the old left wing feminist liberal drip is finally waking up to the reality of the collectivised new world order supporting liberalism that has defined his socio-political life, and the lyrical themes of his band.

Futurama, at least to this reviewer, is the album where Nick Wire admits that he was wrong, and that he needs to batten down the hatches, read, read, read and reassess his worldview. Because of this it’s the next Manics album that’ll probably be worth listening to, at least from a lyrical viewpoint. This album unfortunately still has a lot of that champagne socialist whining quality that comes across like a rich man complaining about digging his own luxurious pit of self indulgent ennui, in the safe suburbs, and surrounded by high tech security systems (to keep out the bothersome proletariat) obviously.

So yes, its still full of Nicky Wire complaining (as he does on every other Manics album post Richey) about feeling isolated and depressed behind his wall of luxury, but with that hint of change, that hint about further study and world view reassesement ringing throughout the lyrical themes, I can put up with it this time, and it leaves me looking forward to the next album, something that I haven’t done in a long, long time now.

Get 'Futurology' for the fresh sounding tunes, and a promise of a world-view reassessment by ‘Jaded old Commie’ Nicky Wire. The Manics sound rested up and full of vigour in this one. It’s jacked to the gills with catchy, sing-along hooks, it has variety and creativity in the individual songs, and you’re guaranteed to get at least a month’s worth of listening pleasure out of it.

Nicky Wire is still moaning about being a rich socialist, but this is a very good collection of songs. If you’ve ever taken an interest in the Manics then you’ll get a lot out of this one, and just like me you’ll find yourselves humming the songs in your head all day long.
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on 7 July 2014
To be honest, every single Manics album since Everything Must Go has been a bit of a letdown for me. There were always four or five songs which I would love but the rest would be at best average and at worst forgettable. But thank God Futurology live up to expectations. You have to give The Manics a lot of credit with trying new sounds and styles while still not selling out to their punk/heavy ideals. With Futurology they have blended electronica with euro beats and made something which is uniquely them but as they have never sounded before.
I would say that the roots for this were lain down with the much misunderstood Lifeblood, but whereas there were weak moments on that album they have learned and improved on to great effect on Futurology.
I can't praise this album enough and it seems incredible that these songs were written alongside the meloncholoy/nostalgic songs that were on Rewind the Film.
I would also like to say that Nicky Wire seems to have found his bass playing niche as his work on this album is imo his most impressive.
If there is a good reason the UK should stay in the EU then this is it!
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on 16 July 2014
Flawless, fresh and inventive in a way that only the Manics can manage.
Over the years the Manic Street Preachers have had many forays into other sounds but ultimately kept their unique style, this time they have taken an industrial genre and made it their own in a way that I love. One of my favourite soundscapes is the industrial electronic/guitar mix of NIN and Rammstein this is not as doom laden as some or as dirty sounding but it is the same sound made more politically aware.
I think it will still sound both fresh and old for years, the dichotomy could only come from 1 band hence I give you Industrial Manics

Love it or loathe it you cannot ignore it
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