Welsh rock icons Manic Street Preachers have released their 13th album, Resistance Is Futile. Oh boy, have they come back fighting. Manics are still throwing punches with some glorious music, packed with more energy, emotion and defiance than ever before. I think it is some of their best work in years.
Artful throwbacks to the Manics classics: “International Blue” and “Distant Colours”
Both “International Blue” and “Distant Colours” act as glorious throwbacks to the spirit of “A Design for Life” and “Everything Must Go”. In a rock world where numerous bands are becoming increasingly pop-orientated, it is nice to hear the band returning to their roots. “International Blue” is a roaring nod to French post-war artist, Yves Klein – the beautiful lyrics being penned by Nicky Wire. Its catchy guitar riffs and spirited vocals by James Dean Bradfield makes for one heck of a lightning bolt to the system. The optimistic music and melancholic socio-political outlook nicely set the mood for this brilliant album.
“Distant Colours” is one of my favourite tracks from the album. It truly shows the emotional makeup and outlook of Manic Street Preachers in the most beautiful way possible. The track is an emotionally-fueled track of disillusionment and a reflective, socio-political assessment of the society we live in. Its mellow and quiet verses build up wonderfully to the fiery chorus, where lead vocalist James Dean Bradfield really shines with warmth. The guitar riffs are also lovely, and the mastery of both Bradfield and Wire are to thank for this.
Resistance is not futile: “Liverpool Revisited”, “People Give In” and “Sequels of Forgotten Wars”
“Liverpool Revisited” is an honorary elegy to Liverpool, the lost 96 of the Hillsborough disaster and those who spent the past 20 years fighting for justice. While writing for this song, Wire was inspired by working-class struggles and the enduring spirits of those who don’t give up. His guitar solo is also brilliant in this track!
“People Give In” is an emotional, rushing mix of losing hope and finding defiance. It is a beautiful and real representation of the human spirit. Since their conception in 1986, the band has been a vivid speaker for the people’s protests, emotions and sheer frustration. This is however, stronger than ever now.
The fast-paced “Sequels of Forgotten Wars” further discusses the emotions surrounding constant frustration, deception and war. The guitars are roaring and the vocals are full of anger, depicting a world crumbling to its end.
New avenues: “Hold Me Like a Heaven” and “Dylan & Caitlin”
“Hold Me Like a Heaven” is my favourite of the album’s unheard tracks. It encapsulates the band’s despair with the ways of the world, to the point of seeking their “heaven” just to get away from it all. Musically, it is very warm and has some sweeping, atmospheric vocals for the song’s chorus.
“Dylan & Caitlin” accounts the life of poet Dylan Thomas and his troublesome relationship with wife Caitlin. Here, Bradfield shares vocals with The Anchoress. We get a beautiful duet between the two. The wonderful strings are a lovely touch, reminiscent of the iconic “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”. Never has trouble sounded so dreamy!
In sum, Resistance Is Futile is an explosive expression of the human spirit, in all its emotions and frustrations. Manics have returned in a flame of glory, with an artful album. It has set itself in the present yet retained everything we’ve always loved about the band that once told us, “we don’t talk about love, we only want to get drunk”.
From Sophia with Love x