After the uncharted territory of 2013’s pastoral ‘Rewind The Film’ and 2014’s angular ‘Futurology’, the Manics’ 13th studio album is a sprightly waltz across the catalogue. ‘Vivian’, focusing on photographer Vivian Maier, is ‘This Is My Truth’ fed through a War On Drugs filter, while ‘International Blue’ has already been the subject of numerous ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ comparisons with its robust riff and wipe-clean production. ‘Dylan And Caitlin’, a duet with The Anchoress, is a little like The Beautiful South (Wales), delivered with an infectious, string-driven warmth.
The strident jangle of ‘Liverpool Revisited’ is fittingly evocative of the ‘Everything Must Go’ era, having been written during a visit to the city for the 20th anniversary tour of that album. It’s a lean, melodic beauty, paying tribute to a people Nicky Wire has written of before. ‘Sequels Of Forgotten Wars’ is the closest in sound to the lithe industry of ‘Futurology’, while ‘In Eternity’ pays emphatic tribute to Bowie, with an evocative lyric: “Closed the curtains in LA / Opened them up on a Berlin day.”
‘Broken Algorithms’ is a sizeable misfire from its title onwards, thundering about with the ham-fisted bluster of much of their debut, ‘Generation Terrorists’. Its digital focus is at odds with an album besotted with faded analogue beauty.
Words: Gareth James
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