Manic Street Preachers – Know Your Enemy

The sauna at my gym is an electric sauna. That means that the rocks are just there for decoration and that throwing water on them damages the element that makes the sauna work. I go to the YMCA and they don’t have to provide a sauna for us. When people break the sauna they use charity dollars to fix this little privilege. Sometimes fuckers still throw water on the damned rocks, even though a poorly worded sign clearly states “THIS IS DRY SAUNA”. They do this because it is enjoyable for a few minutes to have the steam rise and make the warm room more humid. That’s what they consider a good deal for potentially breaking the sauna that we all use: sweating more during their brief time there. I think the Manic Street Preachers should write at least protest song about them sometime. It should be angry and vitriolic and rightfully draw a tentative link between these people and everything currently wrong with the world. Get back to me about this song, guys. It can even be a B-side, I’m not picky.

No strings! No strings! This album doesn’t suck! A little Manics in-joke there, for the faithful. Yes, It’s a gosh-darn rock album, and it’s about politics again, which means I’m a pretty happy Myles. And there’s variation! Here’s a brief description of the first eight songs, in no particular order other than the order they appear on the album:

1. A straight-up rock number, the closest thing to introspection here, with big hooks and big guitars and a general announcement of retrieval of talent.

2. A chugging acoustic number about lead singer man’s mom dying of cancer. Gulpenstein!

4. A Beach Boys-like invitation not to be such a downer….?

5. An uplifting ode to blacktivist Paul Robeson. Best part: they never actually mention Robeson’s name in the lyrics. Though it is called “Let Robeson Sing”.

6. A jangle-popper!

7. A drum machines bassist-fronted sing-speak growl about shitty small towns losing industrial jobs.

8. An anti-European disco sneerjob, complete with wonderful guitar feedback augmenting the melody, the most sarcastic guitar tone ever, and a fadeout of deadpanned “brain-dead mother fuckers, brain-dead mother fuckers” over and over. It’s quite majestic.

After that thing calm down, only really picking up again with the closer “Freedom of Speech Won’t Feed My Children”, but the interim is at least still filled with passable rock songs. These guys really know their way around an anthemic chorus, so things round these parts tend to stick to your mind-bones. And this album is LONG. Sixteen songs and a solid hour of indignation. Sometimes the stances are a bit contentious or precious, but the political stances have evolved from early on, even if I’m not always on board. It’s respectable, damnit, and criticizing activists concerned only with their own rights is a valid point. Calling America “the devil’s playground” is rather fun.

Other than the one time they misquote Eliot, this is a heckfire of a winning effort. My point is, I want that song about the sauna-bespoiler to be in the style of this album. K?

8/10

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