Manic Street Preachers – The Holy Bible (Canadian)

Yes, for those of ya’ll who don’t know, they made a special version of this for Canada, then recalled it after a couple thousand copies. Then they re-released it as part of a box set, but I have the original, and for little teenaged Manics fan Myles there was little greater joy than finding an original Canadian version copy at my local record store for only ten bucks, back when it was the holy of holies. And what a re-rerelease – it’s slightly better! But I gave the last version 10/10. Basically, they pumped up the treble and muscled up the guitars, making it sound more “Rock” and it works way well for most of the songs here. It pumps up the rage aspect and downplays the self-loathing and that’s fine, because there’s so much freaking self-loathing here that there’s much to rage. The bass gets pushed way down, but on this album the self-hatred is bass enough. Really, you don’t need the low end when there’s this much negativity. The point is hammered into your skull quite enough. It makes listening much more gym-worthy, which is an odd sentiment for a suicide pact with oneself on record, but if you’re working out because you hate yourself it’s great motivation. Who’s responsible? You fucking are!

Of course, the political sentiments are actually pretty annoying – being pro-gun (“ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayitsworldwouldfallapart”) or pro-death penalty (“Archives of Pain”) or anti-political correctness (“PCP”) are all right-wing stances taken for reasons more to do with nihilism than conservatism, and they suffer for their substance, not their style. The lyrics still read like Sylvia Plath on adultness pills, and sound like Sylvia Plath on adultness pills fit to music as best as they awkwardly can. But damnit, this is the realest white people can get, and they play it pretty solid snake.

Oh, “The Holy Bible” I could never hate you, even if I forget about you sometimes. I love how your sense of humour consists of listing world leaders and their sexual problems – now ever louder! I love your oddly defensive stance on anorexia – now even less musically compromising (equally lyrically so), love how the line “the first time you see yourself naked you cry” made part of who I am, love how fun “Faster” is while being so fucking miserable, love how the band plays along, love every second of endless negativity that matches how I feel inside for goddamned once, love love love love love love love love love.

It’s weird. Now that I’m an adult and able to examine this recording objectively I see it for the fantastic album that it is, but I’m far less affected by it. When I was young it had the peculiar effect of exacerbating how I felt – I was miserable but hearing other miserables didn’t noticeably help, it just made me feel justified. Now I am the 27 year-old and I don’t feel so miserably, but I have immense respect for something so dark yet not eye-rolly. I had a thought a while ago that a good test for lyrics is to imagine what you’d think if you found out a seventeen year-old girl wrote them. If that happened here I’d think “wow, what a well-read, articulate, depressed seventeen year-old!” thus the Plath comment above. That’s a good sign. Someone who knows Miller, Mailer, Plath, and Pinter is at least allowed to comment on something other than youthful feelings. Hey, if you’re a depressed adult, I’m not one to tell you to stay alive. I’ve found some kind of meaning for now and I’m not about to comment on yours.

It’s funny because this is so far the opposite of “oh well, whatever, nevermind’ that it’s amazing the work that suicide can pull to be the result of both, and that the artists can be viewed together in my mind despite their binary-like opposition. Well, still a great album.

10/10

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