Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
Bleak, beautiful and brilliant
on 25 November 2013
I'm going to come clean; I really didn't care for this album at all when I first listened to it. I've been a Manics fan for a couple of decades now and, the first time I heard "Rewind The Film", I couldn't remember feeling so completely underwhelmed and disappointed in a piece of work from James, Nicky and Sean. Thankfully, I persevered and, over the following weeks, listened to it occasionally until some of the tracks started to shine and then, over the past month or so, I've been putting the album on by choice, rather than to give it a chance, as I was before. It is now my opinion that it's an absolute corker of an album and I love pretty much all of it. I think it's fair to say that it's really quite different from any other Manic Street Preachers album, it's mellower, gentler and much less sonically hard-hitting. Of course, this means that when they do a little of their trademark, explosive big chorus type-thing, such as in the album's sublime title track (featuring the superb Richard Hawley on vocals), it is to great effect.
The album starts with a very soft, defeated song, "This Sullen Welsh Heart" (featuring Lucy Rose) and then bursts into life with the brilliant "Show Me The Wonder", resplendent with punchy brass lines, one of the few songs on this album that has the patented Manics sound. There are many other highlights on this beautifully crafted piece of work. The title track, as I've already mentioned, is fantastic, the gorgeous "Anthem For A Lost Cause" uses strings, brass and those echo-laden backing vocals the Manic do so well to great effect and "As Holy As The Soil (That Buries Your Skin)" is a slow-burner that starts gently and builds into a powerful, soulful beauty. The bleak but majestic "3 Ways To See Despair" is possibly my favourite track on the album (the demo on the bonus disc with the children's chorus is chilling, almost wish they'd gone with that!), "Manorbier" is an almost Western-like instrumental and "30-Year War" has to get a mention for the angry, anti-establishment lyrics alone, which talk about killing the working class "in the name of liberty", "the endless parade of Old Etonian scum" lining the front benches, and the old boy network winning the war again. Powerful stuff that shows that Wire hasn't lost any of his lyrical cutting edge.
All-in-all, this is rather a special record, but it took me quite a long time to appreciate and enjoy all of the tracks completely, so I can understand why some fans have been a little underwhelmed by "Rewind The Film". However, perseverance is the key and, once you really get to know all of the tracks, it will be a surprise that you didn't realise how brilliant the album was in the first place. I tried to listen to all of the demo versions on the bonus disc before I knew the songs properly and found it to be a really unrewarding process, but after I began to really enjoy the main album I revisited the demos and found them to be a wonderful companion to the finished recordings. The band really need to be congratulated for releasing something so different and for having the courage to record something they probably knew would challenge a lot of their fan base. Having said that, surely the majority of their fans (they tend to be an intelligent lot) must realise that the band can't keep on pumping out albums that are sonic duplicates of their most successful pieces of work and, as such, this album is probably a taster to suggest that being a Manic Street Preachers fan is going to be very interesting in the coming years.