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Alternative & Indie - Released September 13, 2013 | Columbia

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 3, 2021 | Columbia

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Rock - Released December 7, 2018 | Sony Music CG

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 20, 2016 | Sony Music UK

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Rock - Released May 12, 2017 | Sony Music CG

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Like many long-term relationships, Manic Street Preachers benefited from some time apart, as their seventh album, Send Away the Tigers, makes plain. Arriving on the heels of 2006 solo albums from both singer/guitarist James Dean Bradfield and lyricist/bassist Nicky Wire, Send Away the Tigers finds the group recharged and revitalized, achieving the widescreen grandeur of Everything Must Go but infusing it with a harder rock edge that may not be as furious as their earliest work, but is no less committed. This surging sense of purpose was conspicuously absent on the Manics' previous albums, which grew increasingly mannered in their attempts at majestic pop, culminating in the pleasant but too soft Lifeblood. It's hard to call Tigers soft -- it thunders even in its quietest moments, and when strings or keyboards are brought in, they're drowned out by guitars. This doesn't sound like a desperate measure; it sounds like recommitment on the part of the Manics, especially since they haven't abandoned the melodic skills they've honed over the past decade. They've merely melded them to muscular yet mature rock & roll. It's that commitment to hard rock that makes Send Away the Tigers bracing upon its initial listen, but what makes it lasting is the songs, which may lack anthems on the level of "A Design for Life," but they're something better: they're small-scale epics, roiling with drama and coiled with tension, flirting with being overblown but kept grounded by the group's reclaimed righteousness and newfound sense of control. That leanness applies to the album overall as well -- where every Manics record since Everything Must Go grew increasingly over-stuffed, this has no flab, and its ten songs have a relentless momentum. It's still pretty bombastic -- the Manics were never about subtlety -- but the sweeping gestures are delivered with a sense of efficiency that makes Send Away the Tigers never seem heavy-handed, which is something that even their best albums often are. So, this isn't merely a return to form, then -- it's also a welcome progression from a band that only a couple of albums back seemed stuck in a rut with no way out. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released August 25, 1998 | Epic

If Everything Must Go found Manic Street Preachers coping with Richey James' sudden, unexplained disappearance, its follow-up, This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, finds them putting the tragedy behind them and flourishing as a trio. Wisely, the group builds on the grand sound of Everything Must Go, creating a strangely effective fusion of string-drenched, sweeping arena rock and impassioned, brutally honest punk. Since the band never writes about anything less than major issues, whether it be political or personal, it's appropriate that their music sounds as majestic and overpowering as their pretensions. Given that the first single was titled "If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next," calling the Manics pretentious is fair game, but they make their pretensions work through a blend of intelligence, passion, and sheer musicality. This Is My Truth sports more musical variety than its predecessors, which means it can meander a bit, particularly toward the end. Nevertheless, these misgivings disappear with repeated listens, as each song logically flows into the next. If the album ultimately isn't as raw or shattering as The Holy Bible or emotionally wrenching as Everything Must Go, it's because the ghost of Richey has been put behind them. That doesn't mean that This Is My Truth is light, easygoing listening -- the portentous, murky closer "SYMM" guarantees that -- but it's not as torturous as its immediate predecessors. But what it shares with them is a searing passion and intelligence that is unmatched among their peers on either side of the ocean -- and, in doing so, it emphasizes the Manics' uniqueness as one of the few bands of the '90s that can deliver albums as bracing intellectually as they are sonically. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 6, 2018 | Columbia

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After Rewind The Film which was underrated by critics, followed by a lukewarm return to guitars ten months later with Futurology, the Manic Street Preachers chose to take their time – four years – in releasing Resistance Is Futile. Chose to, or had to? Four years: the Welshmen have never left so long in between releases before. Had to: their Cardiff Faster Studio had been demolished; a new Newport HQ had to be built; and the anniversary tours for The Holy Bible and Everything Must Go dragged on. Chose to: the Welshmen were thinking of quitting altogether. So, it’s their thirteenth piece of work coming out on Friday 13th: is it an omen? On this double album, the trio led by James Bradfield bring together rock hits and pop that's made for big, young, sweaty crowds. Grandiloquent and taking on themes that run from Vivian Maier (Vivian) to Yves Klein (International Blue) by way of Caitlin Thomas (Dylan & Caitlin), the 26 tracks on this Deluxe edition mark, in Bradfield’s view "the start or the end of something". That's for sure. After three decades spent at the top of the UK charts, the Manics may decide to bow out, and make this work their last. © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz
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Pop - Released June 12, 2020 | Sony Music CG

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Rock - Released December 5, 2014 | Sony Music UK

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Pop/Rock - Released July 7, 2003 | Sony Music UK

Everything wrong with the Manic Street Preachers boils down to this: they took the name of their B-sides and rarities collection, Lipstick Traces, not from Benny Spellman's classic New Orleans R&B single, but from Greil Marcus' academic book on punk rock, which borrowed the title from Spellman. In other words, they come from the head, not the heart; they're beholden to platitudes and the texts that are traded between earnest college freshman and sophomores as they realize that the world is so much larger than what they've known before. Of course, this doomed romanticism has an appeal, even for those who have outgrown it, and at their best, the Manics embodied that spirit: the fleeting moment when all possibilities were endless but also tragic, every choice theoretical, not practical. This can be heard in the band's music, but not too clearly on Lipstick Traces, even if it's billed as a "Secret History of the Manic Street Preachers." The problem is, the Manics put so much energy into their albums -- which were always conceptual expressions of emotion and theory, always tied together by similar musical themes -- they didn't have many interesting songs left over for the B-sides. They had a few noteworthy flip sides -- "4 Ever Delayed," for instance, which leant its title for their hits collection, along with "Prologue to History" and "Democracy Coma" -- but by and large, their rarities sounded like outtakes and rejects. As the first disc of Lipstick Traces shows, these are pleasant enough if you wanted an extension of the album, even if the songs just aren't as good. The second disc of Lipstick Traces is a little more interesting since it's devoted to nothing but covers. These illustrate that the Manics, like any well-read college kid, have excellent taste but can't quite turn that into something original. Nowhere is that better heard than on their didactic version of "Rock & Roll Music," which, due to its plodding beat and ham-fisted vocals, is quite possibly the worst Chuck Berry cover ever. It's plagued by their earnestness, as are many other covers here -- face it, "Take the Skinheads Bowling" may have some slyly serious sentiments, but it was never meant to be performed seriously. The Manics don't fare well when they try to be faithful, as on a version of the Rolling Stones' "Out of Time," which mimics the arrangement and sounds stilted, nor do they do much better when they try to be inventive, as when they turn Nirvana's "Been a Son" into a bottleneck blues; both are hampered by their ambitions, which are written on their sleeve and never ingrained in the music. The list goes on: "Wrote for Luck" lacks the dangerous hedonism of the Happy Mondays, "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" is achingly oversincere, "Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel" is a theoretical exercise that never should have been executed. All this floundering makes for interesting listening, and it's worth digging through this disc to hear the Manics when they do connect. The two Clash covers ("What's My Name," "Train in Vain") are impassioned, since the band absorbed all of Strummer and Jones' lessons, Guns n' Roses' "It's So Easy" is charmingly reckless, and their take on Wham!'s "Last Christmas" is the one time that they effectively capture the sentiment that is an undercurrent in their work. So, Lipstick Traces is uneven, but any die-hard fan willing to explore a "secret history" will know that collections like this are by their nature usually inconsistent. Some of the Manics' peers did deliver consistently on their B-sides -- Suede and Oasis have B-sides collections every bit as good as their proper albums -- but they themselves didn't. And that's fine -- this collection was put out for the sake of completeness, and for completists, it's a good buy. But less dedicated fans can pass it by. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released October 29, 2002 | Epic

Manic Street Preachers have always been a band of very specific charms, something that has not translated outside of the U.K. particularly well. Although it boasts a generous 20 tracks, the 2002 compilation Forever Delayed isn't likely to change that situation, even if it has the lion's share of their big singles, since a band devoted to sloganeering doesn't play outside of their province, or era, without some knowledge of their context. Plus, it's bewilderingly sequenced -- not chronologically, not as a set list, not with the hits loaded toward the front but as if you had all six albums on shuffle play on your CD carousel -- this disc careens between its 20 songs, occasionally gaining momentum through its juxtapositions (the opening one-two punch of "A Design for Life" and "Motorcycle Emptiness" captures the essence of the two phases of the band) but more often illustrating the extreme difference in the band during the Richey James Edwards and post-Richey eras. And though they certainly don't avoid Richey -- his face is on the cover, he provides the subtext of the band's entire career -- they do submerge the unsettling The Holy Bible, a record as nakedly honest and disturbing as In Utero, by just including one song, "Faster," from what is surely their best album. True, its music is too dark to sit comfortably next to the later hits, but without it, Forever Delayed is missing the pivotal point in the Manics' career, especially since Richey was at the heart of their music and worldview, even after his disappearance in 1995. His descent into despair is necessary to understanding the band, and it's what fuels their two great albums: the harrowing The Holy Bible and the triumph of Everything Must Go. Though Forever Delayed contains many excellent songs not on either, the context is so jumbled the music is somewhat diluted and novices would be better to hear either of those albums first. [Initial pressings of Forever Delayed contained a bonus disc containing new remixes of classic Manics songs, none particularly interesting. It would have been much better to offer a second disc of non-LP B-sides and rarities, since there many out there waiting to be collected.] © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 4, 2014 | Columbia

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 3, 2011 | Columbia

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Pop/Rock - Released November 5, 2012 | Sony Music UK

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2001 | Sony Music UK

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 18, 2009 | Columbia

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 6, 2006 | Sony Music Entertainment

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Pop/Rock - Released November 6, 2012 | Sony Music UK

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 17, 2010 | Columbia

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 9, 2018 | Columbia