Manic Street Preachers - Postcards From A Young Man
Luke Langlands 26/09/2010
'[This is our] last shot at mass communication' was the war cry hollered by Nicky Wire of Manic Street Preachers, during an interview discussing their latest longplayer Postcards From A Young Man. Possessing the mantra 'If you've got something to say, say it to as many people as possible', it's now down to them, and them only, to form the last rearguard for 'real' music, as opposed to the deluge of nondescript 'indie' nothingness we are now forced to swallow. Postcards From A Young Man will certainly need to embrace a great deal of muscle and clout if it's to live up to the expectations of another Manics album.
In last week's NME, Wire bemoaned the lack of frontmen in modern bands, and accused The Drums of taking Ian Curtis' 'kooky dance', but completely missing the poetry and art that was behind the Joy Division frontman. Scalding this new era of music as being 'attired in American Apparel', Postcards From A Young Man is a flag plunged into the ground for the old guard. Despite this being Manic Street Preachers' tenth studio album, the band sound as eager and fresh to impress as they did on Generation Terrorists. Too often do we see bands grow old, tired and stale without any fightback or real purpose in latter albums but Manic Street Preachers buck this trend. Bradfield, Moore and Wire still have points to prove - the UK tour to promote Postcards… is the most extensive they have ever undertaken - this is a band who, if they wanted to, could never release a song again and still be considered one of the most important British bands of the last twenty years.
The opening song and first single from the album 'It's Not War (Just The End of Love)', is the perfect illustration of what a radio-friendly song from a real band should sound like, with catchy hooks and stringed instruments working in harmony with guitar rather than overpowering it. It's a fantastic way to start the album, and shows MSP's intent for the entire record straight from the outset.
The highlight of Postcards from a Young Man comes in the shape of 'Some Kind of Nothingness'. Featuring Echo & the Bunnymen's Ian McCulloch (brought in perhaps, to show new bands what being a frontman is all about). The track could become The Manics' version of 'Tender' by Blur due to the gospel-singing chorus, and thus is condemned to being whored by television advertisements for all eternity (forcing everyone who originally loved the song to connect it to British Gas adverts, causing them to hate it).
After slightly drifting away at some points ('Auto-Intoxication' and 'The Future Has Been Here 4 Ever'), the album finishes with 'Don't Be Evil', a piece which harks back to previous albums by the three-piece, and wouldn't sound out of place on Journal For Plagued Lovers. It's a final reminder that the band still possesses bite and unpredictability, and that just because this record was designed to be radio-friendly, it doesn't mean the next one will be too.
Manic Street Preachers don't need to do anything ever again, but they continue to release albums to preach what they believe in and every time they do, they open themselves
up to the critics and risk creating dirt amongst a (just about) golden discography. A burning fire blazes in all their records - it's fire from the nineties which runs off blood, sweat and poetry - not iPods, Twitter and Facebook.
Postcards from a Young Man continues the journey of Manic Street Preachers with admiral polish and steel. It contains one thing that a lot of modern music fails to boast - a
soul. As long as bands like this are still fighting the fight, then we might yet stand a chance of usurping bland mediocrity in music.
'I do consider myself to be somewhat of a pretentious wanker' - Nicky Wire.