I've been quite the Manic Street Preachers fan girl for many years now, I saw them touring Send Away The Tigers (probably the worse MSP album) and have been waiting like a fat kid for cake on Journal For Plague Lovers. The Holy Bible is possibly my favourite album of all time, definately top three, and since the entire concept behind the new album is as a follow up to The Holy Bible, it had the potential to be the biggest anti-cimax in musical history. A ruin to Richie Edwards memory, the final nail in the Manic's coffin, the end of the era. I avoided downloading the album, I dutifully switched off the radio when the single came on, I had braced myself for the worst and had my own obsessive regime I needed to follow. Establishing my own rules for music, I suppose I'm an eternal hypocrite. On Friday 16th May Journal For Plague Lovers came into work, after my lunch I begged for it to be put on the playlist. This album was meant for me to hear in the way I intended. The first few words made me scream and giggle like the loser I am;
"You know so little about me...what if I turn into a werewolf or something"
It's a quote from Christian Bale's character, Trevor Reznik (a nod to NIN's Trent Reznor) in The Machinist, one of my favourite films(ie. one of the only films I can watch again, and again, and again...I generally dislike films, but that's another story for another time.
Idon't want to be an idealistic, airy-fairy, adorational, lunatic about the whole album like it's some magical gift from Richie wherever he may be. There are a few honest critisms, though I feel like I have absolutely no authority to make any negative comment, I can't put something on an unreachable pedestal in my mind and then rip it back down.
On occasions it feels like it's trying so hard to BE The Holy Bible, perhaps that's just inevitable, Nicky Wire kept harping back to how this album was about doing justice to Richie, but it felt a little forced. I'm thinking, the overlapping quotes such as the Machinist one. In The Holy Bible it acted as an introduction to the overall atmosphere of the song, sometimes as an accompaning statement which gave some insight into the actual background to the lyrics, like the tv advert in ifwhiteamerica or the Archives of Pain quote from the mum of a child murdered by the Yorkshire Ripper. Journal For Plague Lovers doesn't do this to the same extent as Holy Bible, but I can't decide whether the quotes compliment the songs in the same way. I'm very tempted to say they don't, but that's a strong comment I'm not confident enough to commit myself to, so I'm leaving it as a suggestion for consideration.
Nicky Wire. I just think, William's Last Words would have been the absolute zenith of the MSP discography if it had been sung by James Jean Bradfield. I presume they were trying to show some distinction between the rest of the songs, and it does sound like an eerie suicide letter, it makes you sit up and take notice, but I just don't think Nicky Wire should be singing it. It's a personal gripe, a lot of other people are going to prefer it the way it is.
I'm going to finish this with the lyrics from Pretension/Repulsion. I'd love to be inside Richie Edwards' head when he was writing, I don't know if the context of his lyrics I associate with them are anywhere near what he intended. But even if I'm "wrong" it means a lot to me.
Sickened and housed street death's burned
Blacked, lived, compelled and cold
Closed down and swallowed formed and regained
Blacked, curt, gloat and discerned
Shot from shot
The androgyny fails
Odalisque by Ingres
Yet your bones for sale
Pornographic, this is pornographic
Expertly clothed amazed and perturbed
Assumed annoyed and ceased
Bow down together
Agonised and locked
Mixed, sealed and received