Manic Street Preachers Forever Delayed Review

BBC Review

But the Manics have political consciousness! Surely cash cow milking can't be their...

Daniel Pike 2002

Manics fans are more likely than most to morosely ask, "What's the point?" Over two decades they have looked to Manics albums for answers, or at least refinements on the question. Now, a Best Of compilation and the question is turned upon the release itself. Just what is the point?

Two possible motivations: to spread the music and message of six albums to a wider audience; to exploit commercial profitability.

The integrity of the first motivation appears shaky. You see, Forever Delayed is dominated by the Manics most popular, already well known, MOR output. But the Manics have political consciousness! Surely cash cow milking can't be their motive? Yes, it always seems to jar that anti-capitalist posturing can sell so well.

The album's keystones are the hits of the Everything Must Go and This My Truth... era ('A Design For Life', 'Australia', 'Kevin Carter', 'If You Tolerate This'...). The complementary free new tracks, 'There By The Grace Of God' and 'Door To The River', continue in the Manics Lite vein. Soft rock anthemic guitar epics from the early albums ('La Tristesse Durera', 'From Despair To Where', 'Little Baby Nothing') and a couple of upbeat punky numbers ('You Love Us', 'Motown Junk') complete the palette.

All safe stuff. Only one track, 'Faster', is taken from the stark, harrowing The Holy Bible - the only Manics album to truly stretch the rock paradigm. That said, anyone who has witnessed the pub-emptying impact of songs with the bleak solemnity of The Holy Bible's 'The Intense Humming Of Evil' will perhaps understand, if not forgive, this compilation's timidity.

There is nothing here for the archetypal Manics fan, except perhaps the excellent, rare, and poignant, cover of 'Suicide Is Painless'. For others, if you like to get your rock soft and your political protestations abstract or mute, you'll find Forever Delayed quite painless too.

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