After over 30 years together the Manics are back with their 13th album Resistance Is Futile. There were some delays and obstacles getting started on the album, but once they did they really put a lot into it. The opening lyrics of People Give In made me think this was going to be a song full of despair “People get tired, people get old, people get forgotten, people get sold”. There is wonderful orchestration that swoops in reminiscent of Design For Life before I finally hear the lyrics “People get strong” and realise this is a song about hope. Despite the realisation that yes life throws stuff at you I love the strength of this song. “People move on, people can cope, people stay strong” delivered with James Dean Bradfield’s, as always heartfelt delivery. An optimistic beginning with a great hook.
On hearing International Blue, I realise this is an album containing the archetypal Manic Street Preachers sound with more of that dramatic orchestration they’re so fluent at. There are more great hooks here from the keyboard and Wire’s confident crunchy guitar. The song was apparently inspired by the work of French Artist Yves Klein and the city of Nice where Klein was born. The beginning of Vivian has the sound of what sounds like an old-fashioned camera clicking and winding on as the protagonist takes pictures. “It’s your weapon of choice” Bradfield sings. It brings to mind their earlier 90s song Kevin Carter about the Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer. It has a great, catchy chorus that reminds me of elements of 70s glam pop.
Dylan and Caitlin is a sprightly number with an introduction that reminds me of Space’s Avenging Angels with lush double-bass sounds. I like Bradfield’s voice on male-female harmonies (particularly Your Love Is Not Enough with Nina Pearson) and here he is joined by another Welsh singer The Anchoress as they sing about the tempestuous relationship between Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and his wife Caitlin. That lush orchestration is back as well. More of their pride and tenacity comes in for Liverpool Revisited about the victims of the Hillsborough disaster. It’s a rousing song. “There is dignity and pride, there is poetry and life” as they further sing about the families who fought the establishment at the time.
Sequels of Forgotten Wars starts off reminiscent of the Who’s Baba O’Riley before a great 80s keyboard sound comes in. Whilst it’s not their most original song it still has it. The 80s theme continues on Hold Me Like Heaven with a chorus that makes me feel like I’m in the Lost Boys with the “Whoa ooh oohs” chorus. Brilliant. It’s highly commercial and very foot-tappable. Broken Algorithms is early Manics and reminds me of Slash and Burn so much. Overall there are some great tracks on here. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Welsh boys this time around. Some people may have thought this was the final dance for them but Resistance Is Futile shows the Manic Street Preachers have still got a lot more to give.
Fav album - The Velvet Underground + Nico