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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Manics prove they're still the best
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...
Published on 20 July 2009 by Bex

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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Fantastic album and prompt delivery. My only complaint was that the record is slightly warped.
Published 26 days ago by James Barrell


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Manics prove they're still the best, 20 July 2009
By 
Bex (West Lothian, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Requires more than one listen to be properly appreciated, 9 Feb. 2013
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This album deserves so much more than just a 'Holy Bible II' label. It does need more than one listen, but by doing so, the listener is rewarded dividends. Not only is the music sounding as fresh as ever, (despite the Manics' long career so far), it is the lyrics which are of particular importance for me, primarily because of their intelligence and great, probably long thought consideration, prime examples being 'Me and Stephen Hawking' and 'This Joke Sport Severed'.
I work in Mental Health and it is so refreshing to find an album written by a troubled, but incredible lyricist, of whom himself was a Mental Health patient -a group often over looked at, artistically in an often prejudiced industry.
In Richey Edwards' words, there is something powerful in the stark reminders that he delivers, which although often dark, are uterly compelling and absolutely required when both explaining and referencing his material. This, coupled with the majestic and highly polished music that the rest of the Manics' clan have written lovingly and with great disciplined care for the lyrics, makes for an album that although bridges links with 'The Holy Bible' in terms of themes, can actually stand out as a classic album on its own, free from the worry of ever having to perform well commercially, unlike what 'The Holy Bible' had, despite the band having very little interest in profit-driven efforts both back then and now.
Many of the subjects dealt with (and there are many), although written in the early Nineties, are actually eerily relevant to today, such as genetic engineering for example, seen in the line -'Today it's a cow, tommorow it's you'.
I would urge anyone working in or simply having an interest in Mental Health to purchase this album, if not only to have a glimpse of the type of wonderful creativity that can be born out of even a person's darkest and painful days. While I am not claiming that Richey was always depressed when writing lyrics, the mood of the lyrics of the album has an over riding theme of melancholy and reflection, which in my opinion has been unmatched in artistic expression and referencing by much music that has been released in recent years. How ironic then, that the very person to create it has not actually been alive in the time the album has been released to see how superior it is to many modern 'singers' and 'bands' currently in the celebrity limelight so avoided by this down to earth and hugely humble band.
I have great admiration for the remaining 3 band members, who have taken great time and care to make sure that Richey's words have been given the accompanying musical quality that they deserve. I can imagine the making of this album to have been highly theraputic for the Manics and probably, very emotional in parts, especially the assembling of 'William's Last Words'. It is a fitting tribute to a man so missed by his band mates and fans and while not wishing to put words in his mouth, i'm sure Richey would be so proud of them for what they have produced as an end product through combined effort.
This is probably the most under rated album I have ever reviewed and I hope it will go on to be appreciated by generations to come, in the same way that a lot of Richey's work and the Manics' work has so far and will teach present and future music fans to look deeper into the words they are either singing along or listening to, because the lyrics of this album are a shining example of the power of creativity to project ideas against an often brutal and unforgiving political spectrum within which we are "governed". I agree and wish that more talented writers and performers could create songs with more intelligent and political meaning than the songs about 'flowers' and 'going the shops' that seem to saturate the charts these days. Where is the anger? Where is the accompanying action? I'll leave that for the next generation to decide after listening to this very special album.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Miraculous, 2 July 2009
By 
I come to this without a lot of prejudice - familiar with the Manics through Forever Delayed and This Is My Truth but turned off a bit by Know Your Enemy - although listening to this album makes me want to listen to that again in case I missed something first time around.

This album sounds incredibly fresh - not at all what you would expect from a band that has been going for more than 15 years. It doesn't feel formulaic or contrived and genuinely seems to have been born out of loss and continued love for a friend.

I bought this at the same time as The Holy Bible as I read reviews comparing the two and I would rate this album higher - more accomplished musically and more grown up but obviously dealing with many of the same themes.

It's a miracle that a band can produce work like this after so long in the business - Radiohead maybe the only other one I can think of.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving, Raw, Poetic, Consistent, 27 Jun. 2009
By 
Luk Goossens - See all my reviews
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I have this album now for two months and I have listened to it almost 50 times now. It is quite simply a brilliant album. It is definitely in my top 4 of the Manics. Top 4 being Everything Must Go, The Holy Bible, Gold Against The Soul and Journal For Plague Lovers. Not in this specific order though, After all these years I am still trying to figure out which one is the best, I guess all of them have a different effect on me depending on the mood I'm in at that moment.

This album is highly addictive, it will make you listen over and over again and I'm sure I will do so in many years to come.

At times it even made me cry, from JOY that is !!!
If you don't have it yet, just go and get it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy top five of 2009, 22 Jun. 2009
By 
Josh L. Patrick-Riley (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
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First of all the music is brilliant. Listening to the album I have found many songs I like including Peeled Apples, Jackie Collins..., Pretention/Repulsion is a powerhouse, She Bathed Herself In A Bath of Bleach, and Bag Lady (The hidden, true, and leagues better closer to the album). Yes, while William's Last Words is supposed to close the album, I think it is awful and usually skip straight to "Bag Lady", you'll see why.

While some lyrics are forced into place, it is in the same way as The Holy Bible and the album makes it work once again. Except in the chorus of Facing Page: Top Left, which while beautiful music feels awkward lyricwise. But then there are songs like She Bathed..., which I believe the song is a success on every level.

She'd walk on broken glass for love
She thought burnt skin would please her lover
To keep love alive and lust beside
Kind people should never be treated like...
Empty arms and an aching heart

I find that lyric to be full of meaning! About the lengths people will go to to be loved, everyone wants a "table for two" but the pain that goes along with it can be awful. Plus the music is excellent.

As far as Peeled Apples I think it is expressionistic and is trying too hard to come up with metaphors, but so what? At least he was trying when so many musicians/lyricists don't even bother. What's interesting is you can make your own meanings, and sometimes that's what makes poetry interesting. For instance the line "Eternity is not a sunrise" in Bag Lady, I don't know what that means, but it challenges you to try and figure it out.

In "All Is Vanity" Richey is talking about how vanity can become an obsession, again a definite message here

Haven't shaved for days
Keeps the appearance of delay
The luxury of one more dye
Pretend humility, the ugly lie

Leaving yourself unshaved to look like you've been busy, and then saying

It's not "What's wrong?"
It's "What's right?"

Because there is so MUCH going wrong that in that mindset something going right is rare. That is incredibly interesting as vanity becomes the only escape, a point existing frequently in popular culture where perfect appearance is the primary path to happiness. Definite depth to these lyrics if you look close.

For some of the lyrics I think they are attempts at being clever through metaphor, but when the lyrics rise above and make a commentary on love or vanity is when the album shines.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It may be a rehash, but it's very well done., 26 Oct. 2009
By 
Before he went missing, fourth Manic Richey Edwards gave Nicky Wire a folder full of half-written and completed lyrics and poems. Some of it would make up what became Everything Must Go but most of it was put aside. With Richey recently declared dead by his family, it would appear that Wire finally felt it was time to exorcise the demons and use those lyrics; for the first time the lyrics fo the entire album are written just by Edwards (with some minor tweaking by Wire).

What Journal For Plague Lovers really amounts to is The Holy Bible Part II. To that extent there's not a great deal of originality, so hardcore fans may be disappointed by what kind of amounts to a rehash. But it's a rehash that's so flawlessly executed that you can't help but admire it.

The songs here are the strongest the Manics have had in a decade, continuing the renaissance they've been experiencing since 2007's Send Away The Tigers. The band sounds revitalised, with harder, sharper material, with particularly James Dean Bradfield's vocals sounding better than ever.

Where the album differs from The Holy Bible is its atmosphere, which is one of release and almost of joy at finally having made this album. 'Jackie Collins Existential Question Time' has a lyric as blackly hilarious and brilliant as its title, set to melodic punk that recalls a calmer 'Judge Yr'self.' The stop-start dynamics of 'Me And Stephen Hawking' are captivating and the title track is one of the band's best songs ever.

All in all, while not an album bursting with new ideas, it doesn't need to be - the strength of the songs and the power of the band's performances make it one of the albums of the year.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Startling album from a band in their mid-life., 19 Jun. 2009
By 
Much has been written about this album being written around the last lyrical remnants of missing fourth Manic, Richey Edwards, and the significance of its Holy Bible references (Jenny Saville artwork etc), but I have tried to approach this album as a Manics fan and, moreover, a listener to write this review.

Teaming up with Shellac mastermind and former Nirvana producer Steve Albini to record the album was an inspired move-the album sees the Manics on visceral, raging form. This is a raw, punky rock record that is a notable sonic departure from its more radio friendly predecessor, the excellent 'Send Away The Tigers'.

Opener 'Peeled Apples' sets out its stall with heavily driven guitars and a raging James Dean Bradfield vocal, replete with the feel of much (unfairly) maligned second album 'Gold Against The Soul'.

In my opinion the only disappointing factor of this superlative album is that it gets its three strongest tracks dispatched within the first ten minutes of listening...'Peeled Apples', 'Jackie Collins Existential Question Time' and 'Me & Stephen Hawking' are amongst the strongest MSP recordings ever, but that is not to say that the rest of the album is poor by comparison by any means...just not quite as wonderful as the opening triumvirate.

Further listening reveals real dark treasures in the form of the disturbing 'She Bathed Herself In A Bath Of Bleach' and the rigid funereality of 'Doors Closing Slowly', which sounds like it could easily belong on JDB's excellent 2006 solo outing The Great Western.

So, in short this is a beautiful, eviscerating, sad, angry, uplifting and devastating rock record which ticks many boxes at once. Truly excellent and amongst Manic Street Preachers' finest long players.

So try to put the lyricist and cover art to the back of your mind and, to quote a very different artist, listen without prejudice to this fine, fine album.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Shards, oh shards", 2 Jun. 2011
After the Manics had gone through a rough patch with the bland rock of the "Send Away The Tigers" album, it was most welcome return to some well written and well crafted (complementing Richey's lyrics perfectly) songs all backed with a wonderful production that gives the tracks a bleak expanse, but at the same time seems to fill the room with sheer power.

On this album it doesn't seem like a day has past since the "Holy Bible". At times James Dean Bradfield gives the "Holy Bible" a run for it's money with his vocals and guitar playing..

My only criticism is the samples over some of the tracks "Marlon JD" and "Virginia State Epileptic Colony" are prime examples of unnecessary noise over great songs. They're hardly Big Audio Dynamite - leave it alone chaps or have it in between songs. "William's Last Words" would have sounded so much sweeter if James had have provided the vocals rather than Nicky's quaky performance.

Aside from some minor criticisms the album is fantastic and frequently gets played. Tracks like "Pretension/Repulsion" (I love how just before the guitar solo it sounds like JDB is loading up a shotgun), "All Is Vanity", "Marlon J.D." attack you with a sledgehammer of great riffs and lyrics.

The whole package is beautifully presented including the Jenny Saville cover. A masterpiece, job done!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A storming return to form, 11 Jan. 2010
By 
Duncan Russell (Australia) - See all my reviews
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OK, everyone's saying it's not The Holy Bible, so I will too. It's not The Holy Bible. But even if Richey Edwards had not gone missing, the follow-up to The Holy Bible probably wouldn't have been The Holy Bible either. But this collection of songs (all with lyrics by Richey left by him to the band shortly before his disappearance) is about as far away as the Manics could get from their stadium rock period. Their last album before Plague Lovers, Send Away the Tigers, was perhaps a hint of what was to come - a gradual return to an earlier sound - and a mighty fine album too.

Richey's words have pushed James Dean Bradfield back to a darker place, though Plague Lovers is not as visceral and gloomy and thrashy as The Holy Bible. As with THB, James sometimes sounds clumsy trying to force Richey's lyrics into the music, but for all that, it's a perfect album and proof that JDB is a vastly underrated songwriter.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Holy Bible Part Two, 15 Jun. 2009
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Didn't bother with the last couple of Manics albums but thought I would give this a shot after going back to listening to the Holy Bible in the last few months. This is just like a follow up to that album. Same sounds and lyrics which is great.
Shocking, funny lyrics and very catchy hooks means that I have got this on constant play. Best album I have heard in a long while.
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Journal for Plague Lovers
Journal for Plague Lovers by Manic Street Preachers (Audio CD - 2009)
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