This is my first experience of The Manics, beyond one single (“If You Tolerate This than Your Children Will Be Next,” which I have on a compilation).
As I’ve noted more times than I can count, the problem with hype is that is elevates your expectations to heights where they will never be satisfied. This is a well made Britpop record with well-above-average lyrics. But one of the best albums of all time? Really?
I want my “great” records to do more than just make me happy. For me, greatness is as much measured in influence and staying power (“transcendence” as I like to put it) as how much I actually like the record. This is not a transcendent record by any measure, at least not in North America.
It really is well done, and I like it more than a lot of Britpop, which is not my favourite genre. I can imagine myself coming to like these guys almost as much as Blur if I really gave them the time. But they are not as musically inventive as Blur, even if the lyrics might be on par with Albarn’s (or better).
This record is pretty great Britpop but that’s all it is. And I am utterly mystified as to why there are people in the UK press who think it’s one of the Greatest of All Time. Just mystified.
All lyrics written by Nicky Wire; all music composed by James Dean Bradfield and Sean Moore, except where noted.
- “Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier” (Lyrics by Wire, Richey Edwards) 3:29
- “A Design for Life” 4:16
- “Kevin Carter” (Lyrics by Edwards, Music by Bradfield, Moore, Wire) 3:24
- “Enola/Alone” 4:07
- “Everything Must Go” 3:41
- “Small Black Flowers That Grow in the Sky” (Lyrics by Edwards, Music by Bradfield, Moore, Wire) 3:02
- “The Girl Who Wanted to Be God” (Lyrics by Wire, Edwards) 3:35
- “Removables” (Lyrics by Edwards, Music by Bradfield, Moore, Wire) 3:31
- “Australia” 4:04
- “Interiors (Song for Willem de Kooning)” 4:17
- “Further Away” 3:38
- “No Surface All Feeling” 4:14
- James Dean Bradfield – lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitar and piano
- Sean Moore – drums, percussion, trumpet and backing vocals
- Nicky Wire – bass guitar and backing vocals
- Richey Edwards – rhythm guitar on “No Surface All Feeling”
- John Green – Hammond organ and keyboards
- Martin Ditcham – percussion
- Julie Aliss – harp
- Gini Ball – violin
- Sally Herbert – violin
- Anne Stephenson – violin
- Chris Pitsillides – viola
- Clare Orsler – viola
- Martin Greene – string arrangements