Album: Manic Street Preachers

Lifeblood, SONY
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The Independent Culture

"We used to have answers; now we have only questions," sings James Bradfield on a track from Lifeblood, "but now have no direction." He's wrong on several counts, the first being the presumption of once having offered answers - few bands have been as reliant on reinforcing their fans' sense of uncertainty and disillusion in the face of the big, bad world. But their claim to lack direction has, ironically, never been less true than on Lifeblood, perhaps their most focused album to date. Sadly, the focus appears to be upon emulating the mawkish stadium melancholy of Coldplay and Keane. Bradfield's fiery guitar lines have been largely replaced by piano anthems such as "I Live To Fall Asleep", "A Song for Departure" and "Empty Souls", all apparently designed to serve as rallying cries for teenage outsiders, such as their fanbase might have comprised a decade ago. By now, one would have thought their audience might have grown up - as the band themselves seem to, judging by the revisionist ton

"We used to have answers; now we have only questions," sings James Bradfield on a track from Lifeblood, "but now have no direction." He's wrong on several counts, the first being the presumption of once having offered answers - few bands have been as reliant on reinforcing their fans' sense of uncertainty and disillusion in the face of the big, bad world. But their claim to lack direction has, ironically, never been less true than on Lifeblood, perhaps their most focused album to date. Sadly, the focus appears to be upon emulating the mawkish stadium melancholy of Coldplay and Keane. Bradfield's fiery guitar lines have been largely replaced by piano anthems such as "I Live To Fall Asleep", "A Song for Departure" and "Empty Souls", all apparently designed to serve as rallying cries for teenage outsiders, such as their fanbase might have comprised a decade ago. By now, one would have thought their audience might have grown up - as the band themselves seem to, judging by the revisionist tone of the single "The Love of Richard Nixon", portraying the former president betrayed by his associates and abandoned by history. All of which seems a little beside the point at the moment.

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