Manic Street Preachers Journal for Plague Lovers

Manic Street Preachers Journal for Plague Lovers
Before its release, the ninth Manics album was widely anticipated as a return to the days when they were brash, glammed-up pot stirrers. The trio announced they were using what was left of late member Richey Edwards' lyrics and Steve Albini would be behind the boards. So, as expected, Journal for Plague Lovers sounds as if the last five albums never happened. Eschewing the mature, politically driven stadium rock they implemented after Edwards went missing, they've reinstated the visceral intensity that made 1994's The Holy Bible such a bold statement. "All Is Vanity" and "Peeled Apples" attack with post-punk fury, thanks to the ringing guitars infused with Albini's aluminium pitch, and "Me and Stephen Hawking" and "Marlon J.D." are the type of auspicious rock expressions they paraded in their formative years. But all ears will be on Edwards' prose, which is as beautifully poetic as it is caustic, chewing out celebrity on the glam-y "Jackie Collins Existential Question Time," dysmorphia on the muscular "She Bathed Herself In A Bath of Bleach" and perhaps even suicide on the touching "William's Last Words," uncharacteristically sung by Nicky Wire. Whether this is catharsis and the closing of a book or simply just utilizing a good thing, Journal for Plague Lovers is a revitalizing moment for one of the most riveting bands in the last two decades, and easily their best album in 15 years. (Columbia)