Sunday, June 14, 2009

Review: 'Journal for Plague Lovers' by Manic Street Preachers for Tom Magazine

For Tom Magazine.
Journal for Plague Lovers (Sony)

Welsh rockers, Manic Street Preachers are back with a fantastic ninth studio release, built from material left behind by lyricist and rhythm guitarist, Richey Edwards, mere weeks before his 1995 disappearance. Edwards was officially declared dead in 2008, and this record, using his brilliant, often heavy and morose lyrics, is a stunning tribute to his genius. Journal for Plague Lovers is at times witty and retro-tinged, as well as wonderfully despairing. During certain tracks it is discernable that the group have taken Edwards lyrics and attempted to fit music around them, and occasionally the lyrics feel squashed and ill fitting. Aside from that one complaint, the record is touching and clever.

‘Jackie Collins Existential Question Time’ is a witty, comical track that asks all the big questions of life - some too rude to mention here. This Brit-pop infused rock track impresses, as the intelligence of Edward’s lyricism is discovered, "Mummy, what’s a Sex Pistol?" Another standout track is the almost disturbing, ‘Virginia State Epileptic Colony’, an over-the-top, ballsy comment on the crudeness of mental health systems. The track is heavier, with darkly brilliant lyrics and no-holds-barred rock.

The album ends with what can be perceived (although, it is just speculation) to be a suicide note from Edwards. The lyrics to ‘William’s Last Words’, which are hauntingly gorgeous, certainly read like one, and some members of the band haven’t ruled this out. The track is steady, quiet and heart-breakingly beautiful. The album is work a listen, if not just for this one gem, that will linger with you long after the record ends.

(By Anna Angel)

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