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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 20 July 2009
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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on 2 April 2017
Great product
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on 4 August 2015
fine and dandy
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on 9 February 2013
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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on 2 July 2009
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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on 12 April 2017
Out of all the records by this band, I feel this is the one that got shunned the most (so far anyway)

Lifeblood did but it still got some attention. Lifeblood is a great album, but if you prefer the Manic Street Preachers from Everything Must Go or Holy Bible it may of left you feeling a bit empty.

Well if it did, give it another listen because what I found was, it is actually one of their best and well crafted and recorded albums by a long way.

Another one is this, genius idea, using long lost guitarist Richeys lyrics he left behind and wrote their music over the top of it.

It sounds a little bit all over the map at times, but give it a few listens it makes sense after a while.

Manic Street Preachers at their most eccentric best (sounding more like a 4 member band as well...)
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on 27 June 2009
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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on 22 June 2009
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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on 19 June 2009
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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on 11 January 2010
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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