Manic Street Preachers - 'Rewind The Film' Review

Manic Street Preachers Rewind The Film Artwork

rating: 4.5

The Manic Street Preachers have so far spent twenty one years creating brilliant and important records. Unlike most bands that break into their third decade they have flourished rather than becoming stale. This time around the Manics have taken a breath and 'Rewind The Film' is a record that for a moment pauses and looks back nostalgically on youth in small welsh towns and the happiness and contentment that could be gleaned from simpler times. The anger of youth is still burning in everything the Manics produce but this time it is seen from a new perspective. Getting old is lamented but the blunt and defiant lyrics remain. Clearly the brilliance of Ian McCulloch's appearance on 'Some Kind of Nothingness' encouraged the band to feature more guest vocalists and this time around there are three who each have been expertly paired with their tracks. 'This Sullen Welsh Heart' features a wonderful guest vocal from Lucy Rose and starts the album with the line 'I don't want my children to grow up like me' setting the album's trend for beautiful nostalgic melancholy in motion. That tone is suddenly and unexpectedly lifted by 'Show me the Wonder.' It is joyous, trumpet filled bliss that is a made to measure single. Title track 'Rewind the Film' is breathtakingly lovely and soaked in nostalgia which is magnified by Richard Hawley's magnificent performance. 'Builder Of Routines' reinforces the band's struggled acceptance of growing old; 'so sick and so tired of being 4 real/ only the fiction still has the appeal.' '4 Lonely Roads' is the third track to feature guest vocals and Cate Le Bon performs enchantingly. Tracks like '(I Miss the) Tokyo Skyline', '3 Ways to see Despair' and 'Running Out of Fantasy' all underpin the themes of the rest of the record very well. 'Anthem for a Lost Cause' and 'As Holy As The Soil (That Buries Your Skin)' make for a sensational double header in an emotional, beautiful and literal centerpiece to the record. An instrumental track is an unexpected pleasure to have on the album rather than a B side and 'Manorbier' lingers with cinematic menace. It has all the hallmarks of the Manics while being a sign of yet more ground that could be broken in the future. Closer '30 Years War' brings us back to more familiar Manic Street Preachers territory as they rail against the scars Thatcherism has caused society. Scandals of the powerful, institutional cover ups and 'Old Etonian scum' are met with; 'I ask you again what is to be done.' With an ending like that I can only hope that this is just part one and next year's 'Futurology' which was described by James Dean Bradfield on BBC Radio's 6Music as; 'spikier and shinier...It's not like the Holy Bible but it's got a bit of the same intent and threat' will continue with the anger that swells in the coda of 'Rewind The Film.' 'Rewind The Film' is not full of obvious singles but that is in no way a bad thing, actually it makes the whole record shimmer with a haunting unity. The band's eagerness to diversify without tempering their anger and sharpness of their lyrics has earned them longevity. Now on studio record number eleven there has still yet to be a new Manics album that sounds like the previous effort. 'Rewind The Film' takes this a step further and actually unveils another facet to the greatest and most vital band Wales has ever produced.

I have one golden rule: There is no such thing as a guilty pleasure. Any song or film that makes you feel good doesn't need justifying.