Cardiff Afterlife

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

The oft-forgotten Lifeblood ends in fantastic form with this dedication to Richey. Unlike almost all of the album, the lyrics do not feel like something rubbed out inside thirty seconds on the condensation of a windowpane, and the coldness which is the main feature of the album becomes a cloak to wrap around oneself. Musically we have the powerful and emotional melodies that we love, and mix that with superb harmonica work and tumbling, confused harps, along with a very sudden hard stop, and it’s one of the best album closer’s the band has written.

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Cardiff Afterlife: 4/Great

 

Midnight Sun

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

Another acoustic song which feels like a Bradfield solo number, this time from the Postcards From A Young Man B-Sides. We do get drums and other sounds, but this one is primarily an excuse for another lonesome Bradfield melody – gripping verses which remind us what a great singer he is, and a chorus with another fine Manics lead hook backed by organ and slightly heavier guitars. It won’t change anyone’s world, but it’s another poignant entry into the softer canon.

Midnight Sun: 3/Good

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Misheard Lyric: Wants a rental sunrise/wants some gasoline

Actual Lyric: Warm Sorrento sunrise/White Sargasso Sea (or is it ‘Wide’ as you would expect?)

My Guernica

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

One of the better songs of its ilk on Know Your Enemy. The lyrics have a clearer target and the results are better. The music isn’t great, the mixture of organ and dissonant guitars manages to work against the odds, the vocals follow the scratchy low-fi nature of the sound to create an overall mess of distortion – I think it’s the melodies that save the day once more as the chorus feels jubilant and defiant. The song’s final minute is questionable, as we get a little vocal interlude followed by strange additional guitar piece – I’ll let you decide if it works or not.

My Guernica: 3/Good

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Misheard Lyrics: 1. I fear and hear more repeats

2. I’m going on to happy toast/toes

Actual Lyrics: 1. Appearing in more repeats.

2. Going on so happy and so loose.

Dead Martyrs

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

So many of the songs on Know Your Enemy are in danger of getting lost because they don’t stand out from the other 15 tracks. That’s the main problem with Dead Martyrs – it just feels like another album track similar to many others; scratchy guitars, basic hook, simple lyrics. As you’ll see on these posts I have favourites from that album with others will probably overlook for the same reasons I overlook this one – there isn’t anything tangible I can say to describe why I feel this one is inferior to others – it simply doesn’t resonate with me.

Dead Martyrs: 2/Okay

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Inertia Creeps

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

Almost any time the band works with a DJ or dance artist for remix purposes or otherwise, the results are horrible, and this is no exception. This is the band’s remix of a marginally better Massive Attack original, and you’d only know the Manics were involved thanks to some Bradfield ‘aahs and oohs’ at various points. Listen once then forget all about it.

Inertia Creeps: 1/Crap

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Been A Son

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

I’ve long said that the Manics are one of the better bands at recording covers, but this is just horrible. It should work wonderfully given how similar they are to Nirvana, how similar in viewpoint the bands were and even lyrically this is the sort of song the Manics may have written themselves. Bradfield is one of the few singers who could echo Cobain’s majesty, but for some reason this just meanders along into nothingness. Bradfield has a couple of okay moments, but mostly it’s aimless yelling over some country sounding bullshit.

Been A Son: 1/Crap

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Just A Kid

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

One I often forget about, but one I’ve always liked. It feels like a calling back to the days of two albums ago when I first heard it as a B-side to Ocean Spray. It doesn’t have the anger or politics of that album, instead yearning for simpler times. The tone of the guitars even sounds like Everything Must Go, but overall musically there isn’t anything spectacular here. Having said that, I do like the melancholy atmosphere,the verse and chorus are both strong and there are plenty of likable, quotable lyrics. Decent central riff too.

Just  A Kid: 3/Good

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