Manic Street Preachers – Rewind The Film (review)
Their last album, Postcards From A Young Man, was their ‘one last shot at mass communication’, and the subsequent ‘National Treasures‘ compilation and mammoth 02 Arena show marked the end of an era for the band.
With a new era beginning, it seems the Manic Street Preachers are free of such commercial concerns and, on this, their 12th album, have turned off the amps and mellowed out – a lot. Within seconds of listening to opener This Sullen Welsh Heart (featuring Lucy Rose on vocals) it’s obvious this is a Manics album like no other. This is an album about growing up, growing old mourning, self examination, nostalgia, loss and old age, and in places is a very unsettling listen. There are guest appearances from Richard Hawley (on the title track) and Cate Le Bon (4 Lonely Roads – incidentally, one of the only tracks to feature an electric guitar) but in both of these cases, James Dean Bradfield steps back and lets the guest vocalists take the spotlight. It seems that everything about this album is unconventional.
It’s not all introspective though. Show Me The Wonder is an uptempo, brass-filled homage to living life and seeing the beauty in everything, and the anti-Thatcher 30 Year War is the closest we get to the Manics of old (‘And the endless parade of old Etonian scum line the front benches‘). On the whole though, Rewind The Film is much more restrained than anything they’ve done before.
After trying everything from ‘mass communication’ (Postcards) ‘heavy metal Tamla Motown’ (Send Away The Tigers) to ‘elegaic pop’ (Lifeblood) in recent years, it is refreshing to see the band do something completely different, throw away any sort of Manics rulebook, and, now in their mid-forties, take a step back, and examine themselves in such a personal way. This album is not going to drastically change their live setlists but it is the Manics in fine form, and on this, their 12th album, as relevant as ever.