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4.3 out of 5 stars
88
4.3 out of 5 stars
Postcards from a Young Man
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 21 September 2010
When I first listened to "Postcards" I was a touch disappointed. I was not expecting a repeat of the brilliant "Journal" but even so the initial impression of "Send Away The Tigers" pt 2 left me lukewarm. It all seemed a bit overblown. However repeated listens have allowed details to emerge and the elements to coalesce into a wonderful noise.

The first 3 tracks are polished to a burnished rock gleam, and despite being a bit ridiculous (and the Manics have never been afraid of the ridiculous, thank goodness), are glorious. The album opener "It's Not War..." starts with a lovely, slightly scuffy riff before the strings sweep in like it's 1996. Anthemic and then some.
The title track follows in a similar vein. Whilst railing against the loss of principles the song soars until the defiant coda, ending with "I will not give up and I will not give in." Corny as hell, but wow, they are good at this kind of thing.
"Some Kind of Nothingness" is a fabulously over the top epic ballad featuring Ian McCulloch, choirs and a kitchen sink. Terribly sad yet utterly euphoric.
Things calm down a bit with "The Descent". In fact it sounds a bit tame, a bit sedate. Not bad, just...OK.
I thought Hazleton Avenue was a bit of a stinker on first listen, but I'm liking it more now. The riff is lovely, but the strings are perhaps too much here.
"Auto-Intoxication" is a throwback to an earlier Manics at times with it's choppy guitar and obvious politics. I like it a lot.
"Golden Platitudes" is a graceful and reflective ballad about political betrayal. In the context of this album quite understated.
As is "I Think I've Found It" which has at times an almost 80's indie feel, and a lovely lilting rhythm.
"A Billion Balconies Facing the Sun" is a fine, driving, rock song with a fists-in-the-air chorus and furious JDB guitar, and the caustic "All We Make Is Entertainment" continues the mood. Older and happier with their lives they may be, but The Manics still see plenty in the world that irks them.
"The Future Has Been Here 4 Ever" reminds me of The Stones! Sean Moore's trumpet is lovely, and even Wire's singing is OK.
The album ends with the rousing, aggressive, Google baiting. "Don't Be Evil".

Overall a great album, and one that gets better as you get to know it. There is no-one else around quite like the Manics. They may be easy to mock at times, with their hearts on sleeves politics and sometimes over-the-top style, but this is a triumphant record. I hope they sell shedloads.
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on 26 April 2017
Manics, nothing better
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on 7 July 2013
Not Manics greatest work, obviously. But a must to have their full back catalogue. Quite enjoyed, despite not loving. Reasonable
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on 21 September 2010
(It's not war) Just the end of love

Opens with a lovely, dirty guitar arpeggio then quickly descends into a very catchy pop song. I say 'pop' rather than rock as the Manics are clearly putting out a very radio friendly song as their first single from the album. Despite this (or because of it), it remains (for me) the weakest song on the album. I doubt it will grow as I've heard it more than any other song at this point. This song is the Manics on autopilot which means it's good, just not great.

6/10

Postcards from a young man

This is more like it and gives a better indicator of what the Manics are setting out to do with this album. The song is melodic and accessible while maintaining a creative flourish that really lifts the song into greatness. James' guitar playing is restrained throughout and a lovely melodic riff underpins the start of the song. The verse is driven by piano and the guitar takes a back seat, though when the chorus arrives the guitar once again kicks in and carries the song completely. Strings are used throughout to great effect, the whole song builds to a lovely crescendo.

9/10

Some kind of nothingness

Continuing the Manics tradition of cracking duets, Ian McCullough joins in for a lofty, string driven ballad. Although a ballad, schmaltz is thankfully very far away and the chorus is joined by a Gospel choir. Once again we have a melodic, radio friendly song that should certainly be a candidate for a single.

8/10

The Descent (Pages 1&2)

The Descent kicks in with a mildly distorted descending guitar chord sequence which seques into the 1st verse as the guitar arpeggios in the background carry the melody. Strings once again appear in the chorus with a gentle, slow drumbeat in the background. It's a hard song to describe, but it's a good song although not quite up with the best on the album.

7/10

Hazelton Avenue

Now we're cooking! Hazelton Avenue sets it stall right from the off, it's a typically brilliant Manics song with reasonably quiet, melodic verses and the damnedest, most catchiest chorus you've heard in ages. Yep, you'll be walking around singing 'So take me back..... to Hazelton Avenue' just like I am. The chorus is underpinned with another Manics favourite, a guitar riff that uses Octaves and this is part of what helps make the sound of the Manics so unmistakeable. Hazelton Avenue is a great song, wonderfully crafted and manages to get into your head in a way that only great songs can.

9/10

Auto Intoxication

Reminds me of their sound during the 'Know your enemy' album. Opens with a catchy guitar riff that bounces along nicely in the background during the verse. A quiet interlude with just keys, vocals and drums merges into the chorus with a punchy, punky guitar riff. One of my favourite songs on the album although I would say this is one of the least radio friendly songs.

9/10

Golden Platitudes

Stunning. There are two sides to the Manics; The melodic 'This is my truth' Manics and also the balls to the wall 'Holy Bible' Manics. Let me make it clear, I love both sides equally. It takes both sides to make the Manics who they are. This song could have been lifted straight of 'This is my truth' and has a beautiful, slow beginning that gives way to a verse that gets it's hooks right into you and doesn't let go. 'Where did the feeling go?' asks James. Well, the feeling is right here, this song is just gorgeous and if any song off 'Postcards' is going to take our national radio by storm, it's Golden Platitudes.

10/10

I think I've found it

This song really floats my boat. Mandolin (mandolin??!!) opens the song and runs through each verse. Lovely, distorted guitar also peppers the verse strategically and once again we have a knockout Manics song that bristles with personality. Makes your foot tap and the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, THIS is what great music is all about. I think you've found it boys.

10/10

A billion balconies facing the sun

Opens with a classic 12 bar blues with further layers of guitar being added (with more distortion each time). The verse builds and then the chorus just crashes through and kicks hard, full of energy and melody. Two guitar solos break the song up, with the second one being absolutely stunning. James is such a good guitar player, always has been and it's really nice to see him let go a little. One of the more energetic songs on the album

9/10

All we make is entertainment

The title of the song says it all and this song really does entertain. Classic Manics with slightly a slower, guitar driven verse that breaks into a crunchy chorus you can quite happily bop around to. A song that doesn't take itself too seriously and is all the more fun because of it.

8/10

The future has been here 4 ever

Oh no, Nicky sings! Yeah well, we can't have everything can we? Wait though, it's pretty much the best singing he's done and you know what? The song is great. Sean gets his trumpet out (oo-er missus!) for the chorus and James is in full on bluesy guitar mode. A slightly different song to everything else on the album and stands out all the more because of this. At one point Nicky sings 'When I start to break free, it calls me back again. Like the Godfather III, I never can escape'. My favourite line on the album.

8/10

Don't be evil

The album ends with another catchy, crunchy guitar driven song. It's a perfect note to end the album and has a similar sound that the Manics had on 'Know your enemy'. Once it's finished, you'll just go back to track 1 and start again.

Conclusion:

A stunning album. The Manics are absolute masters of this kind of melodic pop/rock. Last year we got the edgier 'Journal...' album which I adored. 'Postcards' is equally brilliant but in a different way. As I said earlier, there are 2 sides to the Manics and to be honest I don't know which I prefer. I know one thing, if they only went on to do one kind of album from here onwards I would really miss the other. Here's hoping the masses appreciate what the Manics have done here.
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on 20 October 2010
After the ecelctic,lovingly created scrapbook genius of Journal, the Manics throw everything into the mix in a return to open hearted and bone headed pop-rock.

You have to admire their guts. Of all publicity courting bands of the last 20 years the Manics have set new standards in the principle of 'build it up and knock it down'. Seeing as they started claiming their first Lp would be their last and ar enow in double figures, you cant say that they didn't give us due warning.

However here their career may end in litigation. Such is the theft of hooks style and lyrics from pop rocks great canon ripped here. Lets examine the evidence:
1. It's Not War Just The End Of Love - The Melody from Bad Day by Daniel Powter
2. Postcards From A Young Man - Their own Design for life - fair enough m'lud.
3. Some Kind Of Nothingness - Manic Street Preachers & Ian McCulloch - Build by the Housemartins
7. Golden Platitudes - Chance by Big Country
9. Billion Balconies Facing The Sun - The Stereophonics and the start of any blues song ever.
10. All We Make Is Entertainment - Badlands by Bruce Springsteen in a major way - the Riff And the Solo - plus Journey and Boston
11. Future Has Been Here 4 Ever, - Blur Coffee and TV
Thats on 3 listens, theres more cribs lurking in there.

At times on "All we make..." you think we are listening to the Darkness - but to be fair it is great fun. No one said pop music is anything other than the aural equivalent of recycling, so we can forgive them this. However the trouble with pop is, its disposable, something the Manics at their height never were. In The Holy Bible and Everything Must go they undoubtedly achieved the status of medorn greats, leaving a much loved legacy. Let alone several very strong works below that. I am not saying this LP is going to trash that. They have put out confused stuff before (Know Your Enemy, Lifeblood) and bounced back to entrall us.

However you buy this LP in the knowledge that pop music has always also been hit and miss, thats the game. And only really four songs or five songs here stop it being a miss. Its always disappointing when the lead single is the best song as 'Its not war..' is. Only really The title track, "Some Kind Of...", "Golden Platitudes", "A Billion Balconies", "Dont Be Evil" and maybe "All We Make..." are truly strong.

A likelable stab at fun and mass entertainment, but all the same, one that you need to think carefully before investing £8 quid in.
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VINE VOICEon 15 September 2010
On we march to LP No. 10 and the Manic Street Preachers continue to do things the hard way. 'One last shot at communication', they said, one last attempt to regain the glory years (commercially speaking) of Everything Must Go and This Is My Truth. They've gone about this task of mass communication by attacking the internet and all those who use it. Hmmm.

Despite the inconvenient truth that Nicky Wire has taken to promoting this album on a daily basis through Twitter and writes 'forever' as '4 ever', right from the title of the album we're led on a nostalgic journey to a time when LOLs and emoticons didn't exist and we had to communicate with each other properly and fame didn't come overnight by posting a video of a double rainbow on YouTube.

By the time we've made it to the end of the paradoxically spiteful closer Don't Be Evil we've be warned about 'Satan's stare' as we go about our daily routine of 'portray[ing our] tedium for the world to see'. On a more cordial note, Hazelton Avenue, which will remind you of at least three different classic riffs at the same time, fondly reminisces over a cup of musical tea about the fading afternoon experience of shopping on the High Street in the days before... *I just remembered where I am, I better shut up about that.*

Elsewhere, the balconies in A Billion Balconies Facing The Sun are presumably a metaphor for people, with 'the sun' being PC monitors. That song's line 'we've found expression for our hate without any consequence' clearly preempts all the anonymous one-star reviews that will appear on this page over the coming weeks. All We Make Is Entertainment tells us 'we're all part of the grand delusion', 'an end to hope and civilization'. Can you feel the love?

You might think such doom-mongering would be soundtracked by more Holy Bible post-punk. Nope - for the most part the music harks back to classic exuberant pop and rock of the 60s and 70s. The Beatles, Queen, Bowie, The Rolling Stones, The Who, ELO, Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac and Phil Spector are all given the Manics' shouty-kitchen-sink-chorus treatment. With strings. And now with added gospel choirs too. And guest appearances from Manic inspirations John Cale, Ian McCulloch and Duff McKagan.

Time is also found to address the downfall of New Labour courtesy of the sublime Golden Platitudes, there's another unashamed attempt to accompany Goal of the Month on Match of the Day with (It's Not War) Just The End Of Love and a requiem of grief and loss in Some Kind Of Nothingness, which would have Christmas No.1 written all over it if it had been released by someone else.

Postcards, despite that last point and its creators' wider intentions, is not an album of its time to connect with the masses. It's quite the opposite, an album that hates everything about this time and these consumers. It doesn't push any boundaries, but by wearing the above influences on its sleeve it was never going to fail to be hooktastic and easy on the ear. This is the latterday Manics doing what they do best: entertaining you while calling you a moron and hoping you didn't notice. You'll come away feeling like they've done this album before, but if they stick to their word, it will never be written or recorded again.
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on 24 September 2010
I love this album. I'm so enthusiastic about it that I'm writing my first review.
Took a few listens to really get into it but its deffinitely something special. You can tell they have put a lot of effort into it and it pays off.
My Favourite song is 'Postcards from a Young man' but there are numerous others that I just keep having to go back an listen to. This album is addictive!
The lyrics are beautiful also.
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on 26 December 2010
First of all, i really can't understand all of the negative reviews for this album. I decided to listen to it a few times before writing a review and i can honestly say it's a stunning piece of work.
I will be honest, this is the first Manics album i have ever downloaded(i am building up my collection with their other stuff!) and their music isn't something i would normally listen to - i am into electronic music mainly.
I have heard the recent singles on the radio and fell in love with them instantly - always liked earlier Manics singles, The Everlasting, There By The Grace of God, Motorcycle Emptiness so i decided to go for it and put it on my ipod.
I haven't stopped listening to it, it's full of gorgeous melodies, intelligent lyrics and James' soaring vocals.
The production is fantastic with some stunning backing vocals from the gospel choir - Golden Platitudes is one of the most sublime songs i've ever heard.
This is real music, and anyone who loves and appreciates music should own this. Well done lads, i am spending my christmas money on your back catalogue!!
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on 23 September 2010
First off, this isn't the post-punk 'we want to be the Clash mkII' type of Manics album, it's from the 'Tigers' style.
It does take a few listens to start to get into the vibe of the record, you need to hear beyond the choirs and tune into the layered melodies and fantastic hook-lines.
Ironically it was the third or forth play of the album and on track number 8 'I Think I Found It', that I finally found it and really started to enjoy the music.

Buy/Download it, no regrets....
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VINE VOICEon 19 October 2010
The review title should appease all those fans of the early Manics who will insist on referring you back to The Holy Bible, Gold Against the Soul and the Generation Terrorists who have a habit of insisting that everything made ever since is bombastic nonsense, lacking the key ingredient that made the early Manics so essential.

Truth be told, the Richie years were amazing, delivering sharp and adventurous rock, but since then their work has unfolded and expanded and seen them deliver some amazing work, from the mighty Everything Must Go, to Send Away the Tigers.

OK, Journal for Plague Lovers was definitely one to please the purists, but in truth, Postcards is a much more enjoyable experience, the sound of a band in their prime, playing out perfectly constructed rock songs, using their best collective talents from James's incredible singing, to Nickys fantastic ability to construct excellent lyrics.

So, what do we have? Manics doing ELO, Queen and in all honesty, their best work since Everything Must Go. They get better and better, so sorry miserablist Manics fans, it looks like this superb band are here to stay and if they keep up this standard it is difficult to find any argument against that state of play.
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