Neu! Gold Dream

Manics 2014 WPAfter an almost repellent idea of an acoustic Manics LP proved to be a wondrous success of widescreen grandeur, the band, again, produce a Cruyff turn by having their synths turned up to 11 for Futurology.

Manic Street Preachers have a slight reputation for gently switching style from LP to LP, the previous move with an emphasis on electronica disappointed. Lifeblood, while selling well and containing two hit singles, failed to negotiate the new ground with any success. There were traces of a band trying something new to maintain public interest.

Here, they continue seamlessly, from Postcards From A Young Man rock through Rewind The Film’s acoustics to Futurology’s rhythmic beats and icy waves of electronica, with sophisticated triumph.

Without doubt, the European shadow of Simple Minds’ early work shrouds this record, Dreaming A City is a bona fide steal of Theme for Great Cities and lead single, Walk Me To The Bridge, acknowledges singer/guitarist James Dean Bradfield thoughts, “Simple Minds were crystalline gods to me.” Yet, the Manics have not created a clumsy homage to those electronic art-rock records, the sound is genuine, and these pieces are emblematic of the whole record.

Wire’s bass pulses with hard Eurodisco as Bradfield resists replicating Michael Rother’s elegiac guitar work. Keeping away from the white Levi clad, Marilyn emblazoned bare chest of the front man, leaning back as yet another Slash dream is executed, he evokes Robert Fripp’s fretwork with Bowie. Another key touchstone in accomplishing the right atmosphere for this Berlin inspired collection.

Krautrock’s motorik beat is not a mere repetitive snap on the snare, Sean Moore’s timekeeping precision shows a militaristic discipline on Divine Youth, as Georgia Ruth delivers a soft, haunting vocal in her duet with Bradfield, which is a counterpoint to German actress, Nina Hoss, whose stern talking on Europa Geht Durch Mich, provides a further teutonic feel.

Let’s Go To War is erie and threatening, powerful and direct, and would not be out of place on Scary Monsters. But the sound of Hansa pulses through The Next Jet to Leave Moscow. This is the most obvious lean to Krautrock, backing Nicky Wire’s lyrics, which fit the sonic mood and embrace the Neu! sound of the band, creating images of Europe’s politically tumultuous 80’s.

Manics WPThrough the LP there are bleeps and pops, which bubble and fizz as Moore takes note from Dieter Moebius by adding wild embellishments to the glacial tones and frantic throbbing. The Manics show they Can as there’s flashes of New Gold Dream in amongst the Cluster, which sparkle in this amalgam. 

Recorded at the same time as last year’s Rewind The Film, which was overflowing with melancholic nostalgia, Futurology sounds very distant from its predecessor in its urgent modernity. Deutsche kosmische musik was the sound of the future 40 years ago and is still attracting visitors today.

Futurology is brilliantly realised electronica, and even more startling because it is unlike any of their records beforehand, yet still sounds like it’s mined from those Welsh hills.

Nearly a quarter of a century has past since their combustible beginnings, yet the Manics are remarkably consistent with their recent output. This is a very honest record from a band many thought on the career circuit, which makes what unfolds within astonishing. This is a band who sound refreshed, oozing with avant-garde vigour, whose future could take them anywhere on life’s autobahn.

My review of Simple Minds New Gold Dream can be read here, while this, and other reviews I’ve written, are on fasterlouder.com.au

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2 Responses to “Neu! Gold Dream”
  1. Angharad Sanders says:

    Good writing as always Tc, haven’t had time to listen to whole album yet let alone review it!!! Like what I’ve heard so far and wore my new t shirt to work ☺️☺️

    Did you get a friend request from some one called tik tak? He’s Nicol a friend of mine from Paris and he likes football and music and talks about them the way you do. Hope the ferals have been tamed xx Love girlie x Sent from my iPhone

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