Manic Street Preachers – Postcards From A Young Man

Release Date 20/09/2010 (Columbia)

By Jon Morrison

Postcards From A Young ManThe mantra for the Manics’ tenth album, one last shot at mass communication, signals their genuine follow-up to 2007’s magnificent Send Away the Tigers – consciously radio-friendly after the raw catharsis of the Richey Edwards penned Journal for Plague Lovers. They want these songs to be heard by, well, the masses, and from the glorious opening of ‘(It’s Not War) Just The End Of Love’, with a chorus that soars like a jet fighter through a Welsh valley with a champagne-tipsy Nicky Wire at the engines, strings, gorgeous words and stadium guitars, it seems they’re throwing everything in. This is a Manics classic and no mistake.

There are some beautiful moments throughout the rest of the album. The duet between James Dean Bradfield and Ian McCulloch on ‘Some Kind of Nothingness’ is wonderful, JDB singing like an angel, whilst McCulloch answers in his tobacco and whiskey-gravelled tones.  You can’t help but be reminded of Queen at their greatest for the title track (not that there’s anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld might say), which sees a richer, maybe wiser Manics yearning for the anger and rage which drove them in the beginning, and which they seem to have reclaimed over the last three albums.  But it’s not all sonic excellence.  The plastic soul of ‘Hazelton Avenue’ seems tired and Duff McKagan is wasted on ‘A Billion Balconies Facing the Sun’ (not wasted wasted, he’s clean–livin’ these days).

Melodic, political, angry, tender, Manic Street Preachers are still creating vital albums and it’s reassuring to know they’re still here and still doing it. Postcards From A Young Man may not have the stunning songs of Send Away the Tigers or the balls of Journal For Plague Lovers, but they’re still pissed off and sexy. The Manics are a mind-blowing live band and the stage is where these songs will really do their mass communicating.

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