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MANIC STREET PREACHERS - "Send Away The Tigers"   Print  E-mail 
Written by Mark Reed  
Monday, 23 April 2007

"beauty comes not in failure, but how you fail."

If you do anything long enough, it becomes a career. And now, 17 years into their adventure, the Manic Street Preachers are starting to sound tired, even, perhaps, jaded. After all, weren't they going to hold themselves up to impossible standards? Make one album, sell 16,000,000 copies, and then split up?


Sometimes, I suppose you have to strive for the impossible. And the beauty comes not in failure, but how you fail. "Send Away The Tigers", their eighth album, is a short, almost anaemic collection of ten short songs and a 'hidden' cover of John Lennon. A far cry from the lyric of 1991 : "I laughed, when Lennon got shot". In the space of 40 minutes - the shortest Manics album ever, fact fans - Wales finest export run the gamut from the profane and profound to the ultimately pointless : almost as if they are scrabbling around looking for reasons to exist.


There's moments of vital, righteous fury in "Underdogs" and "Rendition", moments of seemingly purposeless rage - "Imperial Bodybags" - and some heartfelt, immense melancholy, such as the GNR-style epic "Autumnsongs". The album opens with the title track, which is, well, not all that. Unlike other Manics album, there are no instant stand-out classics. Lead off single "Your Love Alone Is Not Enough", a three way duet between lead singer James, Nina from The Cardigans, and bassist Nicky Wire is as confused and directionless as it sounds. It's also catchy as hell, but lacking in the typical purpose and motive.


Other Manics records seemed to exist because They Had To. Because these songs were desperate for release, needing escape, and bristling with a righteous fury and divine purity of purpose. This time around it's as if the record is bristling against its own apathy, raging against its own lack of invention. "Send Away The Tigers" is, in every respect, the nearest relative of The Manics "Gold Against The Soul" - a polished, economical rock record of widescreen vision and lacking in a vibrant, earthy reality. Attempts to produce a harsher sound seem almost like pale imitations of past work - lesser facsimiles of "The Holy Bible". "Indian Summer" meanwhile cruises on a new-identical imitation of "A Design For Life" whilst adhering to the law of diminishing returns.


It's not all pale imitations. "The Second Great Depression" is an anthemic semi-Springsteen belter that redeems itself through its keen and relentless pace. The aforementioned "Autumnsongs" and "Your Love Alone Is Not Enough" are also musical highpoints.


Like the album itself, most songs are over before it feels as if they have begun. Maybe it's the kind of record that rewards the listener through repeated listenings. However, "Send Away The Tigers", in its entirity is an ultimately unsatisfying record : it lacks the necessary vitality and urgency, the need to exist, that all great records have - and it's over in a mere instant. "Send Away The Tigers" is the sound of The Manics starting to tread water and possibly lacking direction.


It's not their best album by a long shot, but it's another solid addition to the Manics canon.


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