Manic Street Preachers - Postcards From A Young Man

A lacklustre effort.

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Released 20 Sep 2010 | Columbia | By Mary Chang | Rating: 3
Manic Street Preachers - Postcards From A Young Man

While many of their contemporaries from the ‘90s are struggling to put out albums once every couple of years, the Manic Street Preachers appear to not suffer from a similar fate. Their album ‘Journal for Plague Lovers’ (complete with a cover deemed offensive by some music suppliers) released in 2009 seems like it was just on adverts yesterday, but now we can listen to ‘Postcards from a Young Man’, the band’s tenth album if you’ve been counting.

This is also the most recent offering from the Manics that was advertised, unashamedly, as a pop record, the band saying that they were going for radio-friendly tunes on this go-around. Sometimes a statement like that backfires, but judging from ticket sales on the UK tour they just finished, it wasn't enough to keep the MSP devoted away.

While 'Postcards from a Young Man' is definitely a nice set of twelve songs that wouldn't offend anyone and therefore has met the band's own requirement for being radio-friendly, it also isn't groundbreaking either. And after 'Journal for Plague Lovers', in which James Dean Bradfield, Sean Moore and Nicky Wire took to interpreting the 'late' Richey Edwards' notes and turned them into Manics songs, it's a lacklustre effort.

Predictably, '(It's Not War) It's Just the End of Love' the first single to be released from the album is slick and middle-of-the-road palatable, so much so that it was named Radio2 Record of the Week. Any tag as alternative is laughable. That said, it's a good tune, just not one that makes you think, 'wow, that is one amazing single from the Manics!' The title track suffers (if that's the correct word for it) similarly with overblown orchestration. 'I won't give up and I will not give in' is one mantra repeated at the end, not engendering a call to action as it might in the hands of another band, say, Green Day.

This album just plods along. The lyrics of 'The Descent (Pages 1 and 2)' are constructed like a nursery rhyme. Not a compliment for a rock band. 'Golden Platitudes' stars pedantic piano that does nothing for the track. Harp on 'I Think I Found It'? Weird. Far and away the best tracks are 'Auto Intoxication', guitars blazing, and 'A Billion Balconies Facing the Sun', thudding rhythm and feeling like life. Maybe taking more chances and a return to a more alternative sound for the next album may not put the Manics at the top of the singles heap at Radio2, but the results would be far more interesting.