Manic Street Preachers - Resistance is Futile (4 stars)

This article is from 2018.

Manic Street Preachers - Resistance is Futile

Veteran rockers still have much to say about art and politics on their 13th outing

'People get old, people get forgotten', sings James Dean Bradfield on Resistance is Futile's opening track, his instantly recognisable voice powering over thudding cello, then moments later swimming in gorgeous violins. The passing of time is a recurring theme on the band's 13th album, but they're in no danger of being cast into irrelevance.

After what's been, in relative terms, an experimental decade (with the krautrock-influenced Futurology and the stripped-back Rewind the Film), the group's latest effort is reassuringly familiar. The spirit of 'Motorcycle Emptiness' permeates lead single 'International Blue', and it's hard to shake the feeling that Resistance Is Futile's musical blueprint lies somewhere between the rousing, orchestral cuts from Everything Must Go and the confident glam struts of debut album Generation Terrorists.

Considering their often highly politicised output, it's perhaps surprising that the lyrical content doesn't explicitly reference the torrid geo-political issues of today, instead alluding to outsider subjects like French painter Yves Klein, the posthumously-appreciated Chicago street photographer Vivian Maier, and their Welsh compatriot Dylan Thomas. If there's a theme to Resistance Is Futile, it's the celebration of art in a frightening age. Klein is the 'little boy who saw the truth' in the skies of Nice, Maier's camera is her 'weapon of choice', while 'In Eternity' celebrates the legacy of David Bowie, 'the king and queen of style'.

There are moments of melancholy too. 'Sequels of Forgotten Wars' is driven by an ominous riff with lyrics about wars 'doomed to be lost', and 'Broken Algorithms' would have slotted in perfectly on Journal for Plague Lovers. 'Dylan and Caitlin' (a duet with The Anchoress) documents the tumultuous Thomas marriage with grace. There are missteps ('Hold Me Like a Heaven' is forgettable, while 'Liverpool Revisited' is an earnest tribute penned for the Hillsborough victims that deserves a better tune), but Resistance Is Futile is another success from rock's great survivors: a hook-laden collection from a band still full of life.

Out Fri 13 April on Columbia Records.

Manic Street Preachers

The anthemic Welsh rockers return with new album Resistance is Futile.

Cardiff Castle

Sat 29 Jun

Sold out / 029 2087 8100

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