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MANIC STREET PREACHERS - LifeBlood   Print  E-mail 
Written by Mark Reed  
Monday, 01 November 2004
Once upon a time this band meant EVERYTHING. Now, they no longer mean everything, but at least they mean something. And most bands donít even aspire to meaning that much.....


I donít know what they mean anymore : neither do they. No longer the violent Combat Rock Punks, they have become the Elder Statesmen. Respected. Revered even by some.

To some, they will forever be those cartoon Punx in their fakefur. To some, they will always be the saviours of rock : forever encased in an amber-tinted 1994. To other, The Manics are Judases (judai?) for daring to carry on, for daring to change. For daring to cease yelling about revolution, and opting for evolution. Sellouts some claim.

As soon as you put a barcode on anything youíre selling out. Every act is a colloboration. What does not change dies. What does not move drowns in itís own inertia.

Letís cut away some prejudices. Despite what you may have read, heard, or smoked, Lifeblood is the best Manics album since 1996. Shorn of the bland truisms of the anodyne This Is My Truth, and the overlong excesses of the bloated Know Your Enemy, Lifeblood does not outstay itís welcome. Twelve short, punchy songs, each moment precious. Thereís not an ounce of fat on here. Not one.

The old band are dead. Theyíre gone : youíll see snatches of them in the live shows, the old videos. But thereís nothing here that indicates even for one second that this is the same band that recorded 'Faster'.

Lifeblood is a collection of twelve elegaic pop songs. Epic, yet intimate, tiny yet huge, chronicling the widescreen sweep of our small lives, our kitchen-sink dramas, our broken hours. Imagine Phil Spector meeting New Order. From the opening, heartbroken yet hopeful 1985, a miniutae of life from a different lifetime, itís obvious that Lifeblood comes from a different country entirely. A spaceship stuck in orbit, isolated, watching the world through satellite transmission.

Lifeblood is the sound of the Manics ; not growing old, but growing up. Lyrically, itís far beyond the recent two albums : the simplistic imagery, and the primitive, clipped language of previous records are gone. The nearest pointer you will have to this album is There By The Grace Of God, which sounds like a merely b-side compared to this stuff here.

What I do know is that in the ten years since their Annus Horribilus, the decade since they released the best-album-ever The Holy Bible, the Manics have rarely been this good. For what they were, the type of insecurrectionary, revolutionary Combat Rock made flesh, is gone, forever. What they became was a literate stadium rock band, a band that still, occasionally profferred forth flashes of the same mysterious X-factor on record and on stage, trying not to revolve, but to evolve.

Lifeblood is not the best Manics album ever made : but certainly the best one of the past eight years; The album they should have made after Everything Must Go.  Not a return to form, for they fail to echo and imitate past glories, but something more than that. A new future. Itís a beautiful, melancholy, vicious work of art grounded in memory : itís their first record that openly nostalges childhood with sadness and regret and also accepts the future is here.

Itís the sound of a new future : the sound of evolution. And that is so much more than most bands even aspire to. Let alone achieve.

Written by Guest on 2005-05-19 11:52:54
A very dull album by a band that should have split up about five years ago.

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