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4.7 out of 5 stars129
4.7 out of 5 stars
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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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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 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 29 November 2014
Manics back on top form
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on 12 July 2015
A another Classic from The Manics A real German 70's musical vibe goimg on here.Great Songwriting as always need I saw more
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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 28 January 2016
Manic Street Preachers - national treasures. An album for all fans of 21st Century Alternative Rock - with attitude.
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on 5 October 2015
MSP's knock it out of the park. A classic after a few misguided LPs. And a great bookend for 'Rewind The Film'.
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on 17 May 2016
there most recent album really unique and different. takes you to different places when you're listening to it.
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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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