Album Review, Manic Street Preachers, "Know Your Enemy"

After years of promising to fulfil their potential, Welsh rockers, the Manics finally came through with a great album in 1998's This is My Truth Tell Me Yours. Full of instantly memorable melodies, searing guitar, and breathless, anthemic singing, it left their crash-and-burn, agitprop punk well and truly behind them.

The Manics, however, must have realised that it was going to be hard to maintain this kind of quality and started to back away from it. Indeed, part of the promotion for the next album, 2001's "Know Your Enemy," involved actually slagging off their former masterpiece

The new album's title was supposed to refer to "the enemy within." Nice concept as it signalled that they were literally fighting against themselves by making a worse record than their previous one. That said, this is still a good album with some excellent tracks.

Found That Soul is a rumbling rocker and So Why So Sad is a beautiful Beach Boys pastiche. 

One of the best developments, however, is singer/guitarist, James Dean Bradfield's first lyrical effort, Ocean Spray. Apart from being a pleasant enough song, it offers hope that the band's clunky Marxist lyrics, supplied by lanky bassist Nicky Wire, will improve in the future. 

Some of Wire's more obvious political lyrics, such as Baby Elian, commenting on the Cuban child who became a political pawn the year before the album was released, sound like the outpourings of a committee of commissars. 

This also explains why the band decided to promote the record by playing a concert in Havana, under the auspices of the Castro regime. Funny how they don't get any stick for that.

C.B. Liddell
Revenge of Riff Raff
5th March, 2016
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