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Postcards From A Young Man
Veteran rockers' "last attempt at mass communication" may fall just short of its ambition
Paul Nolan, 01 Nov 2010
The Manics scored a major critical hit with last year’s superb Journal For Plague Lovers, which set lyrics left behind by disappeared guitarist Richey Edwards against a backdrop of scabrous post-punk noise. Of course, throughout their career, the Manics have alternated between such resolutely uncommercial outings and more accessible, melodic rock albums. They have always longed to produce an era-defining, global smash hit a la Nevermind, and consistently fallen short – chiefly for the reason that they don’t have a melodic genius like Kurt Cobain writing the songs.
Nonetheless, the band have enjoyed major success with albums like Everything Must Go and This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, records which produced some of the greatest singles of the ‘90s, such as ‘A Design For Life’ and ‘If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next’. The trio have described Postcards... as “one last attempt at mass communication” and while it’s a strong album, I fear that it may not achieve the chart-topping, multi-platinum status they’re seeking.
The opening track and first single ‘It’s Not War, Just The End Of Love’ is one of the key songs, a magnificent, fists-in-the-air epic with a memorable chorus. Indeed, the album is notable for the themes of resilience and fortitude which surface on some of the tracks, which is a notable difference from the nihilistic feel of the band’s previous albums. Nonetheless, the Manics wouldn’t be the Manics without a good dose of melancholy and the likes of ‘Some Kind Of Nothingness’ (featuring Ian McCulloch) and ‘Hazleton Avenue’ are beautifully plaintive tunes with real emotional resonance.
Nicky Wire has always been a superb lyricist and tracks like ‘Golden Platitudes’, ‘A Billion Balconies Facing The Sun’ (featuring former Guns n Roses bassist Duff McKagan) and ‘The Future Has Been Here Forever’ showcase his trademark bite as a wordsmith. Overall, though, Postcards From A Young Man conspicuously lacks the obvious hit singles that would give it a six-month residency in the top ten. Looks like the boys may have to settle for critical respect once more.