Boy, I used to love the Manics. Back in the dismal depths of the 90s when my old buddy Pat first brought them to my attention, I thought they were difficult and edgy and poetic and so fucking rude.
Their singing was all over the place, their melodies you could strip paint with, but they were wonderful nonetheless, a kind of Smiths for those of us who completely did not get the Smiths the first time around: “What’s this guy doing with a daffodil in his pocket? Fucking tool…”
Oh the Manics – the communist clothes, the harsh condemnations, the depressing lyrics, the woefully screwed up Richey – I mean, what more does a band need? I saw them live once, when Richey was still around, and they thrashed their instruments on stage, and shoved them right through the amps. Now prior to that moment I thought that instrument thrashing was puerile and clichéd, but they did it so marvellously that I could only jump up and down insanely and clap like a twit.
And then Richey vanished, and the band went to hell. The first album post-Richey – yeah, I guess it was OK. Then came the next one, and the next one, and the Top of the Pops hits…oh blind me, I don’t want to watch any more. Yes, a few moments of brilliance (like “If you tolerate this, then your children will be next”) but far too much gum between the gems.
And now they’re back with “Send away the tigers”. And, in my timeless fashion, I have heard only one song, a single time, and am going to use it to judge the whole album. The single “Your love alone is not enough”: hmmm, no edge, no politics, no philosophy, no growling…just a fairly harmless poppy rock song with that bird from the Cardigans. I’m sorry lads, maybe there’s some gold on there somewhere but the single does not inspire me to look for it. Go break up with your partners, become depressed and all agitated and then get back to me in a year or two.
Still, despite my best intentions, that bloody song is still swirling in my head: “Not enough, not enough, not enouuuugh”. And, as seen here, the boys are still looking great. They haven’t aged a day, and James looks a whole lot better without the muscles. And if they play Stockholm – oh I’m there baby, I’m there!