Manic Street Preachers: Rewind the Film

rewind the filmManic Street Preachers
Rewind the Film
(Columbia Records)

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From Welsh rockers Manic Street Preachers, I usually expect big, sharply written alternative songs with plenty of social commentary. What I do not expect are acoustic guitars and jazzy brass. Rewind the Film is a surprising entry in the Manics’ catalog, but it is also a welcome departure.

Singer James Dean Bradfield has some of the best pipes in the business, but the guest appearances are all worthy matches. Young English chanteuse Lucy Rose accompanies Bradfield on the first track, “This Sullen Welsh Heart,” where Nicky Wire’s lyrics turn a critical eye not to a political figure, but to himself. Another songstress, the delightful Cat Le Bon, brings a retro sound to “4 Lonely Roads.” However, my favorite is the album’s title track, half of which is sung by Richard Hawley. Hawley’s delivery is precise and calm, a perfect contrast to Bradfield’s bombast when he kicks in.

Lyrically, Rewind the Film is fascinatingly vulnerable. “Anthem for a Lost Cause” cuts into the isolating side of music, while “Running Out of Fantasy” goes even further into the personal. “I’m old, I’m strange and I’m confidential,” Bradfield sings, “Has my fantasy run out of delusion?” For the political sorts, “30 Years War” brings the snark and rage in a beautiful way.

Rewind the Film is bold in its quietness. It’s a graceful announcement and analysis of middle age. While this is their eleventh album, the Manics clearly are not interested in repeating themselves. Lucky us.

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About Casey Hicks

Casey Hicks toils her daylight hours away in an office high above Manhattan in order to afford nights of passionately scribbling. The first song she remembers ever hearing is "Lola" by the Kinks. She thinks this explains a lot.
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