Opening with a drum beat and tinkling keys, there are hints of the past, the now and the hidden future that is the undercurrent of the 13th Manic Street Preachers Studio Album, Resistance is Futile. It is futile to resist the charms of the eleven tracks recorded at their studio Door to The River based near Newport. The album cover of a Japanese Samurai reflects the wisdom of a culture steeped in traditions. Yet, for the Manics, these traditions are there for re-shaping in full knowledge that we want to keep the best. The album captures the ‘looking over your shoulder’, regretting opportunities missed, whilst also that uplifting feeling of taking a deep breath and moving forward. This feeling is captured in the opening track People Give In. James Dean Bradfield captures an inner melancholy, “People Break Down, People move on … People Give In, People Stay Strong, There is no theory of everything”. Yet, this opening number is full of life blossoming with major chords and the rising beat as his voice soars gaining confidence as the vagaries of people are explored.
International Blue is neither melancholic nor the blues. This is a song celebrating the artistry of Yves Klein. It is an instantly recognisable Manics number just as Klein’s paintings stand out from a crowded gallery. It is what the phalanx of fans want to hear. This is a song that fills arenas and unsurprisingly the first single from the album. The album lyrics and inspiration draws on popular culture; not that of social media and transient fads, but the arts as a whole with reference to photography, poetry and paintings. Vivian is up-lifting with a jaunty beat and lyrics that have a simplicity on a number inspired by Vivian Maier, the American Street photography that captured the moment so superbly. From photography to Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and his doomed love with Caitlin his wife. The perfect opportunity to go off-piste we have a duet. The blending of James Dean Bradfield’s vocals, strings and the wonderful Catherine Anne Davies. This is an outtake that works fitting the loose thematic musicality that is found across the album.
Tribute to a city is found with Liverpool Revisited. Politics and architectural beauty collide. The lyrics have immense power as the dignity, fight and resilience that defines the fight for justice following Hillsborough 1996. The music is a wall of sound washing across the lyrics as a bold caress and this is another tribute where the Manics find their voice to say what we all want to say. “There is courage, there is pride – You can see it in your eyes – Fight for justice, fight for life – There are angels in these Skies”
The third single from the album is an anthem. Hold Me Like A Heaven is a soaring crescendo of a chorus and deep melodies. Inspired by Phillip Larkin’s, poem Aubade the number is once again full of memories, being lost and walking the dividing line. Holding on so memories do not fade So that “ All the ties that bind have come undone – Seconds of Hate, tiny screams of love – so hold me …. Like a heaven.”
The album as a whole flows as we walk with the Manics through their artistic and lyrical interpretation of life and how Resistance is Futile. Not every number sits easily in this tidal wave of emotion. The vibe changes harsher, with tinges of punk as we learn about Broken Algorithms. Exploring hate and mistrust, created by manipulation of data and is this the sign that society is broken? This is a harsher number that is a statement of where we are now. The future – well it is in our hands. Closing out the album with The Left Behind and waiting for the end of time, we journey with a lonesome warrior and the melody falls quietly on an album that gives voice to our age.
This is an album with lush rhythms and deep melodic chords. The sound is fulsome with a direction of travel having found a new recording home has lit the blue paper and ideas have flowed like a river of inspirations. Resistance is Futile is a statement. That life is never monochrome or one-dimensional. Among the adventures, fun and highs are hurts, regrets and pain that is with us every day. People are complex and at the end of the day Resistance is Futile we just have to live our lives as best we can with determination, heads held high and keep creating something good. Manic Street Preachers are back with an album that has something to say. We are a product of our past, how we live today and the choices we make on the roads not yet travelled summed up neatly in the phrase and album Resistance is Futile.
NINEdoodle paws out of TEN …
Manic Street Preachers – Resistance is Futile – Columbia Records
People Give In
Dylan and Caitlin
Sequels Of Forgotten Wars
Hold Me Like Heaven
Song For Sadness
Recorded Door to the River Studios, Newport, Wales & Faster Studios, Cardiff, Wales
Producer: Dave Eringa, Gavin Fitzjohn, Guy Massey