Manic Street Preachers – Send Away the Tigers

Send away Tigger and such.

Ever had a Chicago-style hot dog? They’re the best. Here’s how they work: you won’t be able to get all of the ingredients so you have to approximate unless you live in Chicago. You want long poppy seed hot dog buns, sweet green relish, normal yellow mustard, tomato, normal white onion, dill pickles, pickled sport peppers (which are spicy and green), and celery salt. Of course, you’ll also need hot dog or hot dog substitutes. I can’t advise regarding real hot dogs, but jumbo veggie dogs do the trick just fine. Steam the bun, then add the ingredients. If you skip or add anything then creepy food bloggers will come murder you, so be careful. Ha ha, people who run specialized blogs sure are silly and obsessive!

Oh god they’re so good. So good, in fact, that I ran out of buns today and took to assembling little deconstructed Chicago-style hot dog plates with each ingredient having its own little block of plate space. The result – me delicately combining each ingredient with each bite – felt rather successful and haute cuisine-like, but also made me feel like I need to now deconstruct more of my food into its constituent parts. Literally nobody in history has ever thought of something so subversive.

I was so proud of myself that I cooled off with some old timey MSPs. And they do sound old timey, like they’re trying to have a hit in 1998! Big anthemic chorus, big stadium riffs, big sounding statements, even when they’re talking about changing clothing. Everything is really important, guys! Sound the foghorns!

Welp, that about describes it, but let’s get a bit more deeper and more uniquer: this is easily the most competent they’ve sounded in some time. I’m a bit surprised they didn’t include a hidden track of the dudes in a boardroom deciding to make an arena-rock album this time and stay tight, damnit. The keyboards are still around but they’re pushed to the back of the mix and reduced to accompaniment while the guitars play their big riffs.

Basically there are two kinds of songs here: political numbers and interpersonal srebmun. The format works pretty well for the political numbers: “I’m Just A Patsy” is pretty endearing, and rockabilly thing “Imperial Bodybags” actually sounds like a more suburban Dead Kennedys, while the title track ties drinking to setting animals free in Baghdad. And in these tough economic times, a line like “The second great depression / Lasted longer than I figured” sounds eerily prescient. I can dig! But the interpersonal ones, oh the interpersonal ones. Stadium rock does not apply well to songs with titles like “Autumnsong” and “Winterlovers” and their “Pedro the Lion cover” “Indian Summer.” I mean, the former literally features the band shouting at me asking me what I did with my hair in some bizarre catharsis that fails to cathar my sis, if you know that means.

Elsewhere, the band tries far too hard to identify with outcasts on “Underdogs,” ruining a nice little rhythmic pattern completely by going all “This one’s for the freaks / Cause you’re so beautiful” – no no no no no! Not everybody who does something unusual is a “freak.” I don’t want a band to make me feel like I should feel like a pariah for enjoying them, and I certainly don’t want to watch them pander to aging Smashing Pumpkins fans with awkward couplets. Stay away from me.

But sure, plenty of nice walking-in-a-bad-neighbourhood music here if you avoid the self-esteem circlejerk and focus on the joy of hearing a socialist complain in verse about sounding like a liberal. Hee! Also, the hidden track is a cover of “Working Class Hero.” It’s nice that they’ve heard of Jack Lemmon, but I wonder what they think about once bragging about laughing when he got shot. And that’s why you should have no esteem, for either yourself or others.

6/10

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