The Manic Street Preachers have released their 12th album ‘Futurology’ this week taking the band into further stylistic evolution, credit is due to the Welsh trio who have endured so much to continue making such engaging music.
We’ve seen the Manics flirt with glam rock, explore the darkest recesses of the human condition and reinvent themselves as stadium rockers only to withdraw into retrospection, a journey which in itself appears to mirror their own journey through life with their best friends.
The title Futurology is a little deceptive in that its overall sound is very much rooted in the past with James Dean Bradfield talking at length about the influence of early Simple Minds on his song writing; also recording in Berlin has certainly left its impression with the strong presence of Krautrock coursing through the album.
There are as always high culture references and political sloganeering which make the Manics the band they are but it’s imperative to note that these songs are damn catchy, the album from start to finish is abound with hooks and grandiose choruses all graced with incredible guitar work.
For me the most significant revelation is the instrumental track ‘Dreaming a City (Hugheskova)’ it sounds like a sci-fi b-movie inspiring visions of a futuristic cityscape and the result is nothing short of enthralling. Another standout track is ‘Walk Me to the Bridge’ with its triumphant bursting guitars and huge chorus; it recalls the sort of wide-eyed magnificence last seen on ‘Everything Must Go’.
The guest appearances on ‘Futurology’ are all strong; Nina Hoss’ German vocal on ‘Europa Geht Durch Mich’ perfectly suits the Teutonic stomp of the track, Green Gartside on ‘Between the Clock and the Bed’ lends a dreamy feel to accompany JDB’s impassioned vocal and lastly Georgia Ruth on ‘Divine Youth’ is a thing of beauty.
As chief lyricist Nicky Wire deals with nostalgic reminiscence, European identity and amongst other things a love letter to art. As always Wire holds no fear when it comes to lyrical expression and when channeled through JDB’s ferocious roar nothing bears more conviction than a chorus of “SEX, POWER, LOVE AND MONEY!!”
Instantly gratifying hooks are all over this album but it’s dense enough to reward multiple listens making it a near perfect piece. I would strongly recommend ‘Futurology’ to anyone who’ve looked down their noses at the Manics and watch them slowly realise that this is a band that can still surprise after nearly 30 years of making music. This album is an act of defiance against anyone who would doubt them, and it sounds great in doing so.