Being thirteen albums deep into your career is a fine milestone for a band who once threatened to only record one. Previous release ‘Futurology’ showed that the Manic Street Preachers remained a band with plenty of ideas and freshness to remain more than relevant. The question is could repeat that on new album ‘Resistance is Futile’.
The one thing that you could never accuse the Manics of, is lacking in ambition and on ‘Resistance is Futile’ they’ve aimed for a arena sized visage. This is widescreen technicolour Manics with a sheen and polish akin to ‘This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours’ but with added strings, keys and double tracked vocals.
Lyrically there is much to admire. Nicky Wire continues to find areas of culture and society that generate enough ire to demand to be committed to lyrics. The normal dynamic between Wire and Bradfield has seen a gradual if limited exchange of roles over the past number of years. On recent albums, Wire has taken lead vocal duties on occasions and do so again on The Left Behind while Bradfield is penning more lyrics such as Distant Colours. Despite the change in writer the focus remains with Bradfield voicing his displeasure at the direction of Labour.
Highlights include album openers People Give In and International Blues. Each anthemic in their own way. The latter is euphoric, with bold and urgent guitars providing ballast and weight. People Give In reaches high with it’s soaring chorus and hits all the right marks.
Along with tracks like Sequels Of Forgotten Wars, Broken Algorithms and Liverpool Revisited – which sees the group revisit the subject of the Hillsborough tragedy – they represent ‘Resistance Is Futile’s strength and taken together represent some of the Manics best writing. Where it falls apart is that ‘Resistance Is Futile’ it feels like two separate Manics albums fused together.
The aforementioned trio of songs don’t sit comfortably with middle of the road tracks like In Eternity, Vivian and Hold Me Like A Heaven which plod along and could be grouped together under the heading filler. They’re not vomit inducing, but at the same time they don’t snag you for repeat listens. Sonically they could be cast-offs from ‘Rewind The Film’.
It’s almost like ‘Resistance Is Futile’ is trying to be all things to all Manics fans. The Manics are at their best when united by a consistent theme or musical style for an album. It falls some way short of sitting in the pantheon of the Manics best albums, but their is enough quality tracks to please ardent Manics fans.