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Postcards From The Edge
After the bleak intensity of last year's Journal For Plague Lovers, Manic Street Preachers have rebounded with a startlingly melodic tenth album
Peter Murphy, 01 Nov 2010
Throughout their 20-year career, Manic Street Preachers have polar-swung between the extremest of extremes: dense, irony-heavy, post-punk artifacts (The Holy Bible, Know Your Enemy) versus sweeping, panoramic, hyper-melodic ones (Everything Must Go, Send Away the Tigers). Their last album, Journal For Plague Lovers, released a scant 18 months ago, was a prime example of the former. Postcards From A Young Man, their tenth, couldn't be more different: a grand assembly of big, bold, plushly-arranged songs that marry rousing blue-collar rock rhythms to red-blooded gospel choruses.
And yet, both records were inspired by similar trigger images. Journal was constructed around the books of lyrics Richey Edwards entrusted to his bandmates shortly before his disappearance in February 1995. Postcards mines even older sources.
"I've kept the postcards that were an inspiration for the record,” reveals bassist and lyricist Nicky Wire on a warm September morning in the Morrison Hotel in Dublin. “25-year-old postcards from James and Richey, from my mum, my brother, they're real and they're full of emotion and and they're tactile. It's the fetishisation of our youth."
The band's musical powerhouse, guitarist and vocalist James Dean Bradfield, went through a similar period of unearthing old correspondences.
“I got all my old letters out from when Nick and Rich were sending us stuff from university,” he says, “and even the envelopes some of the letters are sent in seem like lyrical workouts, rehearsals. They were putting little collages onto the envelopes, so many ways of trying to communicate. Bureaucratic decisions were being made: what we should be, what rules you can't break.
“Rehearsal wasn't just playing in the band, it was all this correspondence. Nick and Richey sent this big diatribe against the mods in university, and it was just like: 'The empty sunglass aesthetic in its rapier sunburning gaze which gives infinitesimal attention to detail which means absolutely fucknothing, conservative rebellion, go away you fucking Harrington jacket and your short fucking hair.'"