CD: Manic Street Preachers - Resistance is Futile The Welsh rockers' 13th album is philosophical
Over the years the Manics have travelled a varied and adventurous musical path with styles ranging from punk to disco-rock. One thing has remained constant: their intense sense of righteousness. Until now. Resistance is Futile finds the band in a more relaxed mood. And curiously, it suits them rather well.
The subtext of the album is the fading of the anger of youth. The tone is established on the first track, "People Give In", a kind of blend of Nick Cave's "People Ain't No Good" and Leiber/Stoller's "Is that all there is?". The sweeping chorus - "there is no theory of everything" - sets out a philosophical approach that runs throughout. It's especially evident on the album's many nuanced "Kevin Carter"-style mini-biographies. These include sketches on Yves Klein (“International Blue”), Dylan Thomas (“Dylan and Caitlin”) and photographer Vivian Maier (“Vivian”).
Musically, Resistance is Futile feels optimistic and upbeat. "International Blue” mixes a Guns'n'Roses-style guitar lick with a barnstorming pop rhythm. “Dylan and Caitlin”, a lovely soul-folk duet, has a more covert sense of positivity. The blend of vocals - James Dean Bradfield and The Anchoress - finds some of the passion in a troubled marriage. “Liverpool Revisited” pulls off a similar trick. The subject is Hillsborough and yet the song's anthemic quality is less of tragedy and more of an indefatigable spirit.
Some will miss the old, heart-on-sleeve sense of political struggle. But the Manics have never been a band to stand still. Besides, you’d have to be a real stick-in-the-mud not to fall for the euphoric Eighties pastiche, “Hold Me Like a Heaven”. Yes, there are a couple of slightly flabby tracks towards the end, but this doesn't really matter. Ultimately, Resistance is Futile is another fine album that shows that the Manics continue to be one of our most interesting and exciting bands.