Manic Street Preachers Journal for Plague Lovers (2-CD)
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- Number of Discs: 2
- Released: May 18, 2009
- Label: Sony BMG Europe
Rolling Stone - p.104"This is severe, lashing excitement -- rushed-reveille guitars, garage-fidelity drumming and the stark alarm of Bradfield's high sour-pop tenor..."
Pitchfork (Website) - "The title track has a clear-eyed rock jangle to pair with its heavy crunch and 'Facing Page: Top Left' is as gentle and quiet as the Manics get."
Record Collector (magazine) - p.934 stars out of 5 -- "[S]ome of the band's most exciting music in years....James Dean Bradfield deserves special praise for grappling with obtuse lyrics, turning many into surprisingly immediate pop songs."
Uncut (magazine)4 stars out of 5 -- "The Manics have recaptured that taut urgency, accommodating both their punk instincts and their stadium rock flourishes."
Tracks on Disc 1:
- 1.Peeled Apples
- 2.Jackie Collins Existential Question Time
- 3.Me and Stephen Hawking
- 4.This Joke Sport Severed
- 5.Journal for Plague Lovers
- 6.She Bathed Herself in a Bath of Bleach
- 7.Facing Page: Top Left
- 8.Marlon J.D.
- 9.Doors Closing Slowly
- 10.All Is Vanity
- 11.Pretension / Repulsion
- 12.Virginia State Epileptic Colony
- 13.William's Last Words
Tracks on Disc 2:
- 1.Peeled Apples (Demo)
- 2.Jackie Collins Existential Question Time (Demo)
- 3.Me and Stephen Hawking (Demo)
- 4.This Joke Sport Severed (Demo)
- 5.Journal for Plague Lovers (Demo)
- 6.She Bathed Herself in a Bath of Bleach (Demo)
- 7.Facing Page: Top Left (Demo)
- 8.Marlon J.D. (Demo)
- 9.Doors Closing Slowly (Demo)
- 10.All Is Vanity (Demo)
- 11.Pretension / Repulsion (Demo)
- 12.Virginia State Epileptic Colony (Demo)
- 13.William's Last Words (Demo)
Personnel: James Dean Bradfield (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar); Nicky Wire (vocals); Katherine Irwin Thomas, Katherine Thomas (harp); Andrew Walters, Nathan Stone, Bernard Kane , Andrew Walters (strings); Sean Moore (drums, percussion).
Audio Mixer: Dave Eringa.
Recording information: Faster Recording Studio Cardiff; Rockfield Studios, Monmouth, Wales.
Richey James Edwards disappeared in February 1995, just months after the release of the Manic Street Preachers' lacerating third album, The Holy Bible. He was officially presumed dead in November 2008 and just months later the Manics released Journal for Plague Lovers, an album that's an explicit sequel to The Holy Bible right down to its Jenny Saville cover art. The Manics pay tribute to their lost comrade by setting his last writings to music, getting Steve Albini -- beloved by Richey for his production on Nirvana's In Utero, a clear antecedent and close relation to The Holy Bible -- to produce a record unlike any they've made since his vanishing. Tripping on barbed-wire guitars and twitchy as a raw nerve even when it's draped in strings, Journal for Plague Lovers consciously harks back to the emotional bloodletting of Bible, only this manages to skirt the darkest corners of the soul, never quite feeling as desperately hopeless or unsettling as that bleakest of albums. Curiously, there's a feeling of comfort, even relief, to Journal for Plague Lovers, a palpable sense that the bandmembers are grateful to be confronting Richey's ghost head-on. Of course, the Manics never ignored Edwards, but he was notable as an absence -- not presence -- in their music: when he left, they chose to leave behind their arty punk for dignified arena rock. Here, they ditch that inflated sound -- although, truth be told, they were making inroads in this direction on 2007's Send Away the Tigers -- for tight, clanking, cantankerous guitars, so they're not only singing Edwards' words but playing his music, bringing him back into the band in a way that makes them full. Now that they've completed the songs he left behind, it's not that the Manics can finally put Richey to rest now, but rather that they've found peace, that they're finally ready to acknowledge and embrace the blackest portion of their past, and that the grieving has finally stopped and they're moving forward. Indeed, Journal for Plague Lovers winds up being The Holy Bible in reverse: every moment of despair is a reason to keep on living instead of an excuse to pack it all in. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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