Fuck me, it didn't take long for these guys to try selling out! After all the posturing and sloganeering of the early EP's, to the DIY t-shirts and the excellent-if-slightly-too-long debut, they release this. An album which - admittedly - does hold some decent and well-played musicianship but at the same time, comes across as a bit twee and unadventurous compared to the debut. It's not like they'd got the pipe and slippers out, but they weren't too far from that type of territory! The Blog Overlord told me of a story where during the tour for this album, someone yelled "Sell Outs!" at a gig and they for all intents and purposes admitted it! NME journo Stuart Baillie reckoned the album was "All SLASH and no BURN", alluding to the arena-rock sound this album had (Cheers Wiki). Seeing as how they were to become Gods Of The Arena (I couldn't resist the 'Spartacus' quote. Fuck 'Breaking Bad', go watch 'Spartacus' instead), opinions of this album have been revised by most journos as this album seemingly fits in with the broader, more arena filling sound of more recent times. Of course, it could be considered part of some great Manics master plan. 1) Get noticed, 2) Sell out, 3) Release something as harsh, raw and as nightmarish as The Holy Bible and then laugh as people lose their shit at how a band can go as easily from one aesthetic to the complete polar opposite. Of course, it could've all been for shits and giggles.
Released in 1993, it was produced by Dave Eringa and he'd really captured a big, more filling sound compared to the predecessor album. Musically, it's been compared to both Guns 'n' Roses and The Clash but i cannot hear it. To me, it sounds like decent enough rock which - like I said in the previous paragraph - is played well but without much conviction. This is the main problem for me as the album opens strongly enough with the first three tracks but then it goes into a lull. I've listened to it a few times in a row now but it's just not landing. Mind, tracks, 8 (Nostalgic Pushead), 9 (Symphony Of Tourette) and 10 (Gold Against The Soul) are fantastic! These are a bit more interesting and single-handedly save the album from the low mark I'd have given it.
In retrospect, it's not a bad album although whether it's essential is another thing. There are certainly some great ideas on this but I think if they'd spent a bit more time on certain other aspects, making sure they'd product tested and quality controlled then it would have been better. Or even if they'd only released the best five songs as an EP, that would probably have been a better option. Yes, definitely that one.
5 Out of Ten - It could have been a bit better.
This album is available on iTunes.
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