on 19 June 2007
People tend to say that "Send Away the Tigers" is a return to form after the disappointing "Know Your Enemy" and "Lifeblood". I do not agree. I enjoyed "Know Your Enemy" very much, and "Lifeblood" was also a very very good album. "1985", a song from "Lifeblood", is, in my opinion, one of the best Manics' songs, second only to "Motorcycle Emptiness". Therefore, I do not consider "Send Away the Tigers" to be a return to form - it is as good as ever. It is different from "Lifeblood" - more energetic, less electronic, but as melodic. It is also different from "Know Your Enemy" - more mainstream, less punk, but as hard.
"Send Away the Tigers" is indeed a brilliant album. The guitar riffs of James are there ("Imperial Bodybags"), killer-ballads are there ("Second Great Depression", "Indian Summer"), hard-rock is there ("Rendition")... Concerning the best songs on the album - "Your Love Alone is not Enough", "Autumn Song" and "I'm just a Patsy" - it suffices to say that each of them had more than 30 play counts on my iPod two weeks after the release of the CD.
The Manics are not back. They have always been with us. And they stay here.
on 19 April 2007
I'm going to get straight to the point: Send Away the Tigers is a fantastic album.
It's the sound of a band waking up and realising what it was about themselves that made them sound so powerful, unique and exhilarating and then applying that to record. It's also like they've finally managed to strike the perfect balance between their more abrasive 'punky' moments and their epic, grandiose numbers - bringing the two together to create something truly thrilling.
To name but four songs, Rendition and Send Away the Tigers will make your heart beat faster (or maybe even stop it for 168 seconds), and The Second Great Depression and Autumnsong will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
When MSP are on this kind of form they are still very special indeed, and alongside The Holy Bible and Everything Must Go, a trilogy of classic Manic Street Preachers albums is now finally complete.
on 9 May 2007
Whilst Manic Street Preachers will probably never be able to revive the energy and darkness of "The Holy Bible", "Send Away The Tigers" does resemble, in the main, "Everything Must Go". Indeed, the opening bars on Indian Summer could be Design For Life part II. The album doesn't have a weak track. It was delivered last night and, apart from sleeping, I haven't stopped listening to it. A real return to form from what some thought was the disappointing Lifeblood (though I found it refreshing to listen to a band that have grown up), this album still follows in the vein of Lifeblood, whilst harking back and warmly reminiscing previous glories. Highlights for me, at the moment, are Indian Summer, Autumnsong and the title track. Well worth the money - essential listening.
Oh, and the title actually refers to Tony Hancock, who would apparently use the phrase when trying to rid himself of his depressive moods.
on 4 July 2007
The Manic Street Preachers are a band who have always been so followed by controversy, and so utterly distinctive, that in many ways, nothing that the Manics could ever release again will ever meet some people's unreasonably high standards. Despite that, the Manics are and always have been a totally authentic band: a band who achieved a number one single with a song about the Spanish Civil War, another number one with a record which had no promotion, and a never-ending supply of angry rhetoric and profound intelligence. In short, they have a huge supply of the charisma that so many modern bands are pathetically lacking in.
And after the mercifully brief MOR Lifeblood era, this album is a very valiant effort at getting back on track. For starters, the entire album has far more self-assurance and feeling than anything on Lifeblood, whilst the music and lyrics have raised in intensity again, fitting somewhere between 1999's 'This is My Truth Tell Me Yours' and 2001's 'Know Your Enemy'.
The opening track, 'Send Away The Tigers' is automatically striking in that James has returned to his much more distinctive and aggressive style of playing guitar, which has been abandoned for the aforementioned 'Lifeblood'. This is a good thing, in fact, the confidence of the riffs along with the quickly sung abundance of lyrics make 'Send Away The Tigers' the Manics best opening album track since 'Yes', on 1994's 'The Holy Bible', and in fact, the quickfire delivery is also very reminiscent of 'Yes'.
'Underdogs' is also one of the most energetic songs that the Manics have produced in a long time, being a short, effective, and most importantly fun slice of punk, paying tribute to the army of disaffected Manics fans who have been central to the success of MSP for years. The radio-friendly 'Your Love Alone' will infuriate MSP purists with it's poppy refrain and catchy hook, but it actually stands as proof that simplicity can be a very effective thing - four chords and a repetitive vocal performace from James and Nina Pearson make this an assured and admirable effort.
'Indian Summer' is one of the Manics best attempts at an anthem in years, borrowing a few chord progressions from 'Design For Life' another great vocal performance and some truly beautiful instrumentation. It should be a single, but the Manics choices of single have frequently surprised fans and critics alike. 'The Second Great Depression', meanwhile, is the only song on the album that sounds slightly out of place, and one can't help but think it would probably fit more comfortably onto 'Lifeblood'. It's slowed-down pace and muted mood are ill at ease on an album which has so much zeal.
'Rendition' contains yet more of the classic rock riffage that JDB has always excelled at, plus the amusing lyric: "Good God I feel like a liberal", whilst 'Autumnsong' is a bona-fide classic anthem, full of melancholic lyrics, catchy as hell verses and chorus, as well as the G'n'R style guitar style which seems to dominate much of this album.
'I'm Just A Patsy' is not an immediate classic, but definitely has the potential to grow on it's listener, featuring heavy and powerful guitars and a particularly effective mid-section which slips into the minor key and contains a soundbite. The effect is quite impressive, as is another of JDB's admirable guitar riffs. 'Imperial Bodybags' also contains more of this fantastic, more upbeat direction that the Manics have taken, exploring the atrocity of the Iraq War in it's subject matter, and also a simple yet effective chorus, as well as more furious guitars. It's probably the fastest song on the album, and easily one of the best - a potential single, in fact.
'Winterlovers' attempts to go down the route to anthemsville, but never quite gets there, instead stagnating in the lame 'Na-na-na' refrain which hampers the song and adds absolutely nothing. This is just a minor irritation, however - the musicianship is still top-notch, and the song contains a truly maginficent riff. This is then followed up by a rather pointless cover of John Lennon's 'Working-Class Hero', which is a real letdown, and probably the weakest point of the album. The original cannot be improved on, and this version does not explore any new possibilities. It's an annoying addition to what is an otherwise fantastic album.
And fantastic is what I would describe this album as, because for all it's imperfections, shortness of length and commerical marketability, it is obvious that the Manics are truly back into the swing of things and giving it 110%. Which is all anyone could ever ask of them.
I'm not one of those fans that likes everything that the Manics do (I have hardly listened to Lifeblood since I rushed out and bought it on the basis of hearing the Nixon song a coupla times) but this album is very very good.
It has all the maturity of the Manics recent stuff but with a lot more umph reminiscent of The Masses Against the Classes and can be rightly compared to The Holy Bible released over a decade ago. A plus point of this album in comparion to the Bible is that you can understand what's being sung. Most of the vocals were so roughly produced on the Bible it was a real shame as musically it is probably their high point and at that point James still sang in a real Welsh accent which I think is great (being from Wales myself).
The collaboration with the lead singer of the Cardigans is an absolute gem and so catchy I was singing it to myself after one listening and I love the reference to 'You Stole the Sun from My Heart' from This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours.
This album has not left my car since I bought it. I have been telling people to buy it even if they don't really like the Manics because it is going to be one of the best albums released this year.
on 31 December 2007
I bought this album from HMV today (only because someone gave me a giftcard), and it is simply fantastic.
I will summarise each song:
Send Away The Tigers: What a great opening track - if you're not sure whether you like the band or not, this is Manics at their best. A brilliant, easy to listen song. 10/10
Underdogs - Not quite as good, but still excellent. It is a fast pace, catchy song with interesting lyrics. 7/10
Your Love Alone Is Not Enough - This is the Manics first single from the album - it definately isn't the albums best song, but it doesn't let the band or the album down at all - it is in keeping with the album, and is a good, easy to listen song. 7/10
Indian Summer: Really good song. It is also not the best song on the album, but it is still good. 6/10
The Second Great Depression: This isn't a fast paced, catchy song like Underdogs, but is a more quiet song with good singing. It definately isn't one of the albums best songs, but I wouldn't call it bad. 5.5/10
Rendition: It is OK. However, for some reason I almost feel bored when I listen to the song. It has good parts, but it is probably one of the worst songs on the album. 4 or 5/10
Autumnsong: Really, really good song. I would think this would be Manics next or next but one single - it is a seriously good song. It is very catchy, and I think everyone would instantly like it, even if they hadn't heard any other Manic Street Preachers music before. 10/10
I'm Just a Patsy - With some albums, the songs towards the end aren't very good, and sound like bands are just writing any old rubbish to fill the cd up. It is a good to see that the Manics haven't been doing this, leaving a catchy rhythm. It is the sort of song that the listener wouldn't really like instantly, like Autumnsong does, but if you listen to it again and again it definately grows on the listener. 7/10
Imperial Bodybags - like I'm Just a Patsy, this is a great song to put at the end of an album, to keep the listener playing the album and not switching over to something else. Definately a good song, and would even be a potential song to have as a single. 9/10
Winterlovers/Working Class Hero - Fantastic song to finish with. Somehow it feels like it is the last song in the album (which it is!). There are catchy vocals ( Na na naaa) in it, which make you sing it back. What a great song.
Overall, I cannot describe how fantastic this album is. Each song is listenable - it's not often that I have albums that I can listen to the whole way through without skipping a track.
There have been some absolutely fantastic comeback albums in 2007. But none of them have been quite of the same glorious nature as that of the Manics' new album "Send Away The Tigers", only the eighth studio album of their career but arguably, from where I'm standing, one of their best.
As a raider of my elder sister's record collection around the ages of 7-8, I always felt (and still do) a great affection towards the two biggest selling albums of their career - 1996's "Everything Must Go" and 1998's "This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours" simply because of their ability to bring out consistent, timeless singles like "A Design For Life" and "You Stole The Sun From My Heart". However, I would be lying if I said that I had even the slightest smidgen of interest in their last album, 2004's "Lifeblood".
However, upon hearing this album's lead single and recent Q Award winner "Your Love Alone Is Not Enough" back in April, a rip-roaring yet beautifully orchestrated duet with The Cardigans' Nina Persson, I had a feeling "Send Away..." might be a return to their energetic, vitriolic best. Thankfully, I was right.
Though I accept they'll never fully return to their 90's glory, they are still able to produce storming songs like "Underdogs", "Indian Summer", "Autumnsong" and "The Second Great Depression" and to that end, they deserve not to be forgotten amongst a sea of Arctic Monkeys and Pigeon Detectives. When they're at their best, they are one of the most consistent singles bands I can think of, and I hope that the consistency long continues.
If you do anything long enough, it becomes a career. And now, 17 years into their adventure, the Manic Street Preachers are starting to sound tired, even, perhaps, jaded. After all, weren't they going to hold themselves up to impossible standards? Make one album, sell 16,000,000 copies, and then split up?
Sometimes, I suppose you have to strive for the impossible. And the beauty comes not in failure, but how you fail. "Send Away The Tigers", their eighth album, is a short, almost anaemic collection of ten short songs and a 'hidden' cover of John Lennon. A far cry from the lyric of 1991 : "I laughed, when Lennon got shot". In the space of 40 minutes - the shortest Manics album ever, fact fans - Wales finest export run the gamut from the profane and profound to the ultimately pointless : almost as if they are scrabbling around looking for reasons to exist.
There's moments of vital, righteous fury in "Underdogs" and "Rendition", moments of seemingly purposeless rage - "Imperial Bodybags" - and some heartfelt, immense melancholy, such as the GNR-style epic "Autumnsongs". The album opens with the title track, which is, well, not all that. Unlike other Manics album, there are no instant stand-out classics. Lead off single "Your Love Alone Is Not Enough", a three way duet between lead singer James, Nina from The Cardigans, and bassist Nicky Wire is as confused and directionless as it sounds. It's also catchy as hell, but lacking in the typical purpose and motive.
Other Manics records seemed to exist because They Had To. Because these songs were desperate for release, needing escape, and bristling with a righteous fury and divine purity of purpose. This time around it's as if the record is bristling against its own apathy, raging against its own lack of invention. "Send Away The Tigers" is, in every respect, the nearest relative of The Manics "Gold Against The Soul" - a polished, economical rock record of widescreen vision and lacking in a vibrant, earthy reality. Attempts to produce a harsher sound seem almost like pale imitations of past work - lesser facsimiles of "The Holy Bible". "Indian Summer" meanwhile cruises on a new-identical imitation of "A Design For Life" whilst adhering to the law of diminishing returns.
It's not all pale imitations. "The Second Great Depression" is an anthemic semi-Springsteen belter that redeems itself through its keen and relentless pace. The aforementioned "Autumnsongs" and "Your Love Alone Is Not Enough" are also musical highpoints.
Like the album itself, most songs are over before it feels as if they have begun. Maybe it's the kind of record that rewards the listener through repeated listenings. However, "Send Away The Tigers", in its entirity is an ultimately unsatisfying record : it lacks the necessary vitality and urgency, the need to exist, that all great records have - and it's over in a mere instant. "Send Away The Tigers" is the sound of The Manics starting to tread water and possibly lacking direction.
It's not their best album by a long shot, but it's another solid addition to the Manics canon.
on 30 June 2007
We all have to grow up and be serious at some time in our lives, and maybe this is there's. Some will argue this is a sell out, others will hail this as an epic. Personally, with my narrow perspective of what does it sound like musically, I have always loved JDB's voice (check out Tom Jones's Reload version of "You're Right She's Gone" if you want proof against an acclaimed benchmark), and as for the simply massive melodic riffing its back big time. This is the Manics in the Big Stadium, and whilst the purists may whinge, the rest of us will recognise it for the magnificence that it is. Blackwoods proper rock answer to the poodles of New Jersey. Whoah!
on 8 May 2007
I have been a fan of the Manics for many years now- and have many of their albums from the Holy Bible to Know Your Enemy. I didn't buy their previous offering, 'Lifeblood' as I was rather disappointed with what I heard.
It's reassuring to know, then, that 'Send Away the Tigers' is a welcome return to form.
The opening track, 'Send Away the Tigers' is vintage Manics, and they've rediscovered their harder, rockier sound. Soaring guitars and James Dean Bradfield's great voice make a great opener. 9/10.
Track two, 'Underdogs', has a raw, punk feel to it. The chorus soars above fairly average verses, although the track does have an accomplished sound to it. 8/10.
Track three, 'Your Love Alone Is Not Enough', and the first single off the album, is brilliant. It's catchy, and instantly memorable. The Manics, and Nina Persson of the Cardigans combine brilliantly, and it's not difficult to see why the Manics admire her vocal talents so much. 10/10.
Track four, 'Indian Summer', starts in quite a dreamy fashion, before opening into a top track. This is the beginning of the new-found anthemic Manics sound- driving guitars entwined with strings, maybe producing a sound somewhere between Aerosmith and Guns N' Roses. 10/10.
Track five, 'The Second Great Depression', is another top track. Anthemic once again, with chugging string sounds. The chorus is fantastic, reminiscent of Bon Jovi, Aerosmith and Guns N' Roses. JDB's solos are great, and very accomplished. One of the Manics' greatest songs. 10/10.
Track six, 'Rendition', carries on in the same vein of the previous track, in the sense that it's anthemic, and it rocks. The Manics haven't sounded so good since 1996's 'Everything Must Go'. A soaring chorus provides the pinnacle of the song. 10/10.
Track seven, 'Autumnsong' starts in a Guns N' Roses-esque, 'Sweet Child O'Mine' fashion with its opening riff, with a hint of Aerosmith in the lyrics. The chorus is fantastic and along with 'The Second Great Depression', one of the Manics' finest tracks, not here, but of their career. 10/10.
Track eight, 'I'm Just A Patsy', rocks hard. Yes, it's anthemic, but not on the same scale as the previous few tracks. Nothing as special here as the previous few times, but it's very good. 9/10.
Track nine, 'Imperial Bodybags', is excellent. This is another hard-rocking track, chugging along in the verses. Politically driven, it's obvious in the lyrics- something the Manics haven't been shy about in the past. However, this track is more punk-rock than the earlier anthemic offerings. The song however, is brilliant. 10/10.
Track ten, 'Winterlovers', is another anthemic track, with its 'na na naa' in the chorus. A song worthy of finishing a brilliant album in itself you may think. There is, however, a surprise to follow. After the track finishes, there is a cover of John Lennon's classic, 'Working Class Hero'. And the Manics cover it brilliantly. It goes along brilliantly, with a slight blues-hint in the verses. 9/10 for 'Winterlovers', and a unanimous 10/10 for 'Working Class Hero'.
So, I have come to the conclusion that 'Send Away the Tigers' is easily the Manics' best work since EMG over 10 years ago. There are a few classics on here, undoubtedly. The album starts as fairly average, but picks up as it goes along. The weakest track, in my opinion is 'Underdogs', and the best isn't a Manics track at all. It's a John Lennon track. However, 'Autumnsong', 'Imperial Bodybags' and 'The Second Great Depression' rank up as some of the Manics' finest work.
Welcome back, guys.