Monday 26 July 2010, 14:01
I've just sat here at my desk, headphones on, for the last 30 minutes, listening to the new Manic Street Preachers single on repeat. (It's Not War) Just The End Of Love is the first track to be released from their 10th studio album, Postcards From A Young Man.
The single will be released on 13 September with the album following a week later.
So what's the verdict? Well I like it, I really do. It's got a theatrical pop verve to it. A sweeping string-laden hook, classic Bradders growly verse and a widdly solo in the middle eight. The melody is simple but delivered with classic Manics panache.
Given that I love the grand pomposity of Gold Against The Soul as much as the unrelenting murk of The Holy Bible, I'd say this leans more to the former, albeit with a lightness of touch that has come with advancing years.
Canvassing a few of my social media contacts (they used to be called friends, back in the day), there's a positive attitude on the first few listens. "It kinda sounds like Burt Bacharach and Queen. Not a bad thing" said one. I see what he means. Another compared it to Smashing Pumpkins' classic 1995 top ten single Tonight Tonight.
If it didn't have the axe-shredding - albeit short - solo, this single may stray into the plodding, but allied to James' manipulation of the vocals it staves off boredom. It's a bit like Design For Life in that way.
That we should be discussing the quality of a new Manics single is in itself astounding. They've had their ups and downs of course but this band is 25 years old pretty much and are still writing interesting music worthy of debate. In their 40s the Stones had pretty much lapsed into self-parody and farce.
Queen's 10th studio album was The Works which - until 72,000 people hand-clapped to Radio GaGa at Live Aid - was a failure. They were treading water. Many big bands never get that far and collapse into ego- / drug- / booze-fuelled antipathy or outright hatred.
Treading water is what we expect bands of this vintage to do. They're in their 40s and rock music is, like, for The Kids... isn't it? Not on this evidence; good bands, with intelligence to match their musical skills are managing to outlive the expectations and conventions of the music industry.
Wales should be proud of Manic Street Preachers; this single and album may not sell huge amounts and it may not change the world, but if I get to my mid-40s and have anything of worth to foist upon the world I'll be glad.
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