“WE’LL COME back one day, we never really went away”, sings James Dean Bradfield on the Manics’ new title track. Given it’s been less than a year since their last album, there’s some truth to that.
Remember when Manic Street Preachers were angry young men with raw and revolutionary lyrics and stunning guitar riffs and solos on Motorcycle Emptiness, La Tristesse Durera, through to their mainstream breakthrough Everything Must Go?
Well, Futurology is very much latter-day Manics. Gone are the thrills of a screaming Les Paul and a screaming Bradfield, replaced by driving bass from Nicky Wire and low, breathy vocals from the frontman, making this a much gentler beast.
The political bent, once so prominent in their lyrics, is there in song titles such as Let’s Go To War, The Next Jet To Leave Moscow and Misguided Missile, with nods to invasions and Cuba, but with fewer bared teeth in songs than in the early 1990s.
It’s unfair to constantly compare Futurology to earlier triumphs, and there are high points; latest single Walk Me To The Bridge is a great radio tune (whether you believe Bradfield’s claim it’s not about the loss of Richey Edwards or not is up to you), while Dreaming A City (Hughesovka), sets up a huge sonic theme, which feels like Muse soundtracking a computer game.
To be fair, it’s a decent album, and it’s worth a good few listens to take it all in. The only real problem is, we know they can do much better.