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NICKY WIRE – “I Killed The Zeitgeist”   Print  E-mail 
Written by Mark Reed  
Saturday, 30 September 2006
An entertainingly lo-fi triumph of art over ability.

Solo albums are always oddly strange concepts : and, at the very least, any potential listener would be somewhat apprehensive when they come from the self-confessed  least musical member of the group. Nicky Wire, a man who can’t sing and can barely play bass (and not even on the Manic Street Preachers debut as he wasn’t good enough), presents his first solo album….


…and “I Killed The Zeitgeist” is at best, a bizarre and interesting companionpiece to “The Great Western” : both albums are rooted fiercely in the bands roots of the Welsh Valleys, both offer a sense of the displaced and the hopeful melancholy that characterises their parent band, both sound like the work of someone seeking their creative foil.


Musically, Nicky Wire is the Graham Coxon to James Dean's Damon Albarn – the rough, spiky edges to the smooth surfaces, the lo-fi, emotion verite. Wire’s singing voice (and I use the word singing under duress) is a blunt instrument, lacking range or expression but somehow articulating the point more effectively for the inarticulacy of the voice. After all, we all know Lemmy’s a better singer than Whitney Houston. Not because of the ability, but in spite of it.


The instrumentation of the album is clearly produced, hovering at a sleek design ineffectively realised. Bum notes abound. Lyrics sit uncomfortably on top of sometimes primitive but heartfelt melodies… and Nicky Wire, the man who wrote far more of the Manic’s canon of endlessly quotable lines than you realise carries on his wordsmithery. Though it’s impossible to listen to lines like “Ich Bein Ein Newporter” without a giggle.  There’s a couple of gems here, the brief instrumental thrill of “Sehnsucht”, the lead off single “Break My Heart Slowly”, and the opening, title track.


Overall, "I Killed The Zeitgeist" is an entertainingly lo-fi triumph of art over ability that would never see the light of day were it not for the fact it was made by someone who is also sometimes in a much better band.


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