REVIEW: Manic Street Preachers – ‘Futurology’

Futurology

Futurology

If last year’s Rewind the Film can be seen as the Manics settling into their forties, producing a mature album for grownups and Radio 2, while getting all nostalgic as older generations tend to do. Then, this year’s Futurology is the Manics quite clearly stating ‘fuck that!’ and just as the studies of the future that the album’s title implies, the Manics are looking forward to possible futures, probable futures, and the preferable future that they have always been fighting for.

Rewind the Film could be seen as acceptance, maybe even giving up (though this sounds like a negative slant on a bloody good album), but Futurology is as sure of the fight as it is the future. That’s not to say that this album is a complete disregard for what’s gone before, because the Manics have always been comfortable acknowledging, and addressing, everything about their past. This album looks back as much as it does forward, because how does one move forward without accepting or rallying against the past?

Thoroughly handy that it’s on a year many Manics fans will be looking back, seeing as it is the 20th anniversary of their outstanding The Holy Bible. An album that came to be guitarist and lyricist Richey Edwards’ swansong before his disappearance/suicide. It’s fitting then that this album includes the track Walk Me To The Bridge, a track that it’s hard to take as anything other than a fitting tribute and final farewell to Richey. A reference to the past, delivered in the brighter, anthemic style that the Manics evolved into. A theme of old and new inspiration that resonates through the album.

For example, sonically this album is definitely new ground for the Manics, but at the same time its touchstones of influence can be located a bit further back. There’s elements of krautrock, 80s post-punk, a sprinkle of disco, and David Bowie at his most gakked out and Berlin dwelling. Europa Geht Durch Mich for example with its industrial stomp, its PiL-esque kitchen sink and all percussion, and of course Germanic guest vocals from Nina Hoss. Then there’s Dreaming A City (Hugheskova)’s synth soundscapes suited to science fiction landscapes – somewhere between Tokyo today and Blade Runner’s dystopian Los Angeles.

Tracks like Let’s Go To War and Misguided Missile are statements of intent that bring to mind the post-punk tone and fire of The Holy Bible by way of Everything Must Go choruses. The View From Stow Hill even has a, dare I say it, Radiohead tinge to its backing instrumentation. There’s of course the big and the bombastic in the shape of the title track and Sex, Power, Love and Money. The lethargically sexy Between The Clock And The Bed is a sleeper hit.

An album that’s as equal parts melting pot of the past and everything the Manics have been, as it is push into pastures new that confirms that old dogs can learn new tricks, but they can refine their old ones too.

Nicky Wire allegedly reads every review; alright Nick? ’ow’s it going?

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