New Music: Manic Street Preachers – Send Away the Tigers

25 07 2007

by mr. travis

Manic Street Preachers - Send Away the Tigers

Artist: The Manic Street Preachers
Album: Send Away the Tigers
Label: Red Int./Red Ink
Release Date: July 24, 2007 (U.S. Release Date. British Release Date: May 3, 2007)

The Manic Street Preachers have had a tough run of it since their beginnings as Marxist punks by way of Guns N Roses in the early 90’s. At that point they were well known, but not extremely popular in their native Britain, while not even a factor upon the American music scene. Now, in the later years of the 2000’s, they are a continual presence on the British charts, while still a non factor in America, despite the success of such bands as Blur, Oasis, and Radiohead, all of which sprung from the Britpop scene. Today, the Manics no longer sound remotely close to the days of their punk and glam hybrid, instead opting for the more streamlined, radio friendly approach of U2, with singer and guitarist James Dean Bradfield sounding similar to a socialist Bono, especially after the disappearance of their fourth member, faux-guitarist and songwriter Richey James Edwards, who has been missing his disappearance following the release of their best album The Holy Bible in 1995 (the band still gives 25% of their earnings to an account in Edwards’ name).

On their eighth album, Send Away the Tigers, the Manics are the most political they’ve been since This is My Truth, Tell Me Yours. But, where American bands such as Rage Against the Machine or Against Me tend to show their anger with the system not just through their lyrics but in the aggressiveness of their music, the Manics are deceptive with their heavily produced sound. The first single “Your Love Alone is Not Enough” is the most deceptive of the bunch, a catchy sing-along complete with male/female vocals courtesy of lead singer Bradfield and Cardigans’ (remember them?) vocalist Nina Persson, going back and forth about their love . . . not being enough, hiding the underlying themes of suicide, perhaps even the ghost of Richey Edwards. It’s unfortunately a bit slight, feeling in a lot of ways to be the obvious single meant for a play on the British charts. Which is fine, for what it is, but no one can confuse this for the band’s best musically or lyrically.

Despite the slightness of the single, the rest of the album works as an extension of the Britpop scene. The production is distinctly British, with the songs building towards a soaring chorus that seem to be almost built upon the notion that they will be played in large football (as in soccer) stadiums to a chorus of drunken buffoons. This is not the forward thinking type of music that Radiohead has become known for, nor it is the great, classic approach of Oasis. But, the Manics have never been either of these bands; they may have been on the cusp of the greatness these two have achieved, but that greatness disappeared over a decade ago with Edwards.

There are some solid songs though, starting with the opener “Send Away the Tigers,” opening with a quiet organ before bursting into the soaring chorus, once again hiding the darkness behind a song dealing with fall of Baghdad. “The Second Great Depression” is the highlight of the album, dealing with, well depression. It may be the most obvious of the bunch, but it’s nice to see them not striving for some sort of lyrical guessing game. The follow up, “Rendition” regarding the CIA’s habit of “extraordinary rendition,” or pulling terror suspects to Cuba (or other places around the world) via plane. It’s their most blatantly political song, and one of the best on the album. But, it makes it clear why the band has never had much success in the U.S., it’s one thing for bands from America to call out the problems in society, it’s another thing entirely for a British band to do so.

Already a success in Britain (the album was released in May overseas), Send Away the Tigers is just another in a line of albums that have done very little in expanding the sound of the Manics, as they still play as if its 1996, in the height of Britpop mania. It’s fine for what it is, but in the end, it only leaves the listener wondering how things would have gone if the Edwards had not disappeared and continued on the path they were headed following The Holy Bible.

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One response

19 02 2010
Alysa Hervey

I was trying to get the RSS Feed for your site but it is not properly displaying in Google Chrome. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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