Greetings, Glancers! I continue my romp through the laughter and boke-provoking world of AI creations. by passing a globby, pixelated eye over musical artwork. Album artwork is a glorious art form – one which doesn’t get enough credit from cravat wearing Art types. Probably. I didn’t bother checking. But a good piece of album artwork can tease the musical and thematic treats inside, like a goblin waving his codpiece while beckoning you into his candy covered hovel. Artists and bands spend weeks and months deciding upon what works and what doesn’t before slapping a big breasted leather clad woman straddling a tiger on the front and confidently nodding their heads – yes, that’s the one.
In this era of AI witchcraft, the artist has every right to shiver in the foreboding knowledge that they will soon be out of a job like the rest of us. Why spend thousands of dollars on a commission from some dick who dropped out of school with no qualifications and likely has a social media picture of them holding a cup of coffee and looking wistfully off to the left, when you can type a few prompts into an app and get something unique and nightmarish for free?
For this post, I typed the name of every studio album by Wales’ finest Rockers into one such app and have specially curated the results for your bemusement. From start to finish, may I present, The Manic Street Preachers – AI style.
The Manic Street Preachers have been around for so long now that they’re reliably labelled as Dad Rock by people who don’t know any better. After their run of hits towards the arse end of the 90s, and the fact that they’re no longer as energetic as they once were, it’s a term which easily fits when you can’t be arsed actually looking into the band. The AI bot has seemingly fallen for this trap too, with a collection of harmless dinner jacket clad images proclaiming ‘we sing songs and play guitar, but not too loudly’.
What’s interesting about the App is that a slight change in keywords can garner such different results. For example, when I remove the band name from the search we get something much closer to what the band were like in their younger days – angry, vitriolic, cross-dressing punk boys who would just as soon plant a bomb in your pants as rip them off with their teeth.
Sadly, the App became too confused when I kept the band name out and would return complete nonsense. For this sophomore album, the band embraced all thing riff and rock in the hope of capturing bigger audiences. It didn’t work, but it’s an excellent album with a flawless five tracks and a middling five. The App cares for none of this and instead latched on to the word GOLD.
The band’s third album is famously one of the greatest albums ever made, and certainly one of the darkest, most uncompromising pieces of art you’re likely to encounter. Its album artwork is a shocking glimpse into what’s inside. The AI bot gets some of the colouring right, and it at least attempts to nod its head towards the albums many, many literary influences and allusions, but it unfortunately makes the band look like if Keane was crossed with PJ & Duncan.
The band’s first success coincided with the loss of their heart, their lyricist Richey Edwards. Continuing as a 3 piece, everyone was shocked when they found themselves topping the charts and courting the Britpop obsessed music bothering public of the 90s. The bot seems confused if they are a 3 piece, a 4 piece, a duo, or just James with a dog’s nose.
Continuing with this trend of uncertainty and rather than adopting the new, bland visuals of the band once famed for their outlandish appearance, the AI bot presents the band as one of warped faces, splayed legs, and very long guitars.
The band’s clusterfuck moment – pissed off with being famous they elected to do whatever they could to alienate every part of their fanbase with 16 songs of fuzzy experimentalism. Curiously, this is the first time the app consistently gets close to actually looking like the band. It has also decided it’s a live album.
By the time Lifeblood came around, no-one cared anymore. The world had moved on to shitty angular indie rock like The Strokes and The Killers, and had no time for Welsh upstarts unsure of their musical direction. The band is a synthpop slice of cold abandonment, and it just as wonderful as everything else they’ve done. Shame no-one else thinks so. The App has gone with a blue sheen, which suspiciously apt.
With Send Away The Tigers, The Manics tried to recapture some of their old punk energy making an album of mostly uneventful and repetitive snappy songs. 80s punk and metal bands liked tigers. The App likes tigers.
Postcards From A Young Man was famously the band’s attempt at mass communication – they thought the best way to communicate was with an overly produced Motown album. What’s interesting about the bot’s cover is the approximation of both Richey, and of Sean Moore who deserves his own pic above. Not sure why he has an electronic bug blaster for his eye, but there you go.
Journal For Plague Lovers was a stonking return to form, even if the tracks feel a little unfinished. The bot has gone for some sort of Industrial-Black-Doom Metal thing with one picture looking like a mermaid drooping out of a moon.
Not sure why I got the order of the last two albums mixed up, but I’m not changing it now. Rewind The Film is the dullest of albums – it’s like the second half of This Is My Truth, played twice. But less good. iTs BeTteR WHen yOU’re OlD! Sure it is, boomer. This blandness has rubbed off on the bot, aside from placing Cristina Ricci front and centre.
Futurology is the much more interesting cousin of Rewind The Film, coming out less than a year later. Much like the album, the bot’s artwork is a mish-mash of ideas, from men in suits showing off their toy soldier collections between their feet, to James’ amazing Matt Bellamy inspired banana guitar.
Unfairly dismissed by idiots as uninteresting, Resistance Is Futile is a fantastic blend of the band’s most mainstream sentiments and their latter day experimentalism. It may not go hard in either direction, but it’s accessible as fuck. The bot believes that obese emo Thom Yorke is now a member and that Wales is a turgid wasteland.
The band’s most recent release saw them grab the number 1 spot in the UK charts. Of course, you only need to sell 300 copies to earn that coveted award, but it’s the principle of the thing. It’s not too different from Resistance Is Futile – there’s still too many special guests, the inspiration is now ABBA rather than Bowie, but even with its pop sensibilities it veers into progressive territory more frequently than they have before. I fully expect a Concept album next. The bot’s attempt at creating something unique fell on its arse.
Let us know in the comments what you think of any of this shite.