April’s Album Reviews
Manic Street Preachers – Resistance is Futile
“Riots! Revolution! ROCK N ROLL APOCALYPSE!” … Is exactly what the Manics would have had us believe they sounded like, before exploding across the early 90s rock scene with the slightly-iffy double album Generation Terrorists. 25 years after their supposedly epochal debut (the guys just forgot to split up afterwards. Or make a revolutionary art statement), here’s their thirteenth album.
First song, People Give In, starts badly by cruelly taunting the sadly-missed Stephen Hawking with the lyric ‘there is no theory of everything’. Steady on, lads. But then International Blue ups the pace some and slides in a sneakily insistent four bar keyboard riff and some sky-scraping guitar. It rocks. Plain and simple. ‘Are we living in the past?’ James Dean Bradfield asks on second single Distant Colours. Well, kinda. But when the past sounds as good as this, an epic, tastefully windswept slice of designer-rock, you know what? That’s okay.
Dylan and Caitlin, which features a duet with The Anchoress is fucking beautiful. Sequels of Forgotten Wars, from the portentous title down, is distilled essence du Manic: Sinewey MOR guitar riff? Check. Chunky power chords? Yup. Clunky but weighty lyrics? Tick. Greater than the sum of its parts? Give it a chance and you’re listening to a record that’s perhaps up there with the Manic’s best two or three and which, despite your best efforts, will probably weave its way into the background of your life, whether you want it to or not.
8/10 Julian Crockford
Hinds – I Don’t Run
Two years after the release of their debut, the Spanish garage rock outfit are back. I Don’t Run sees a shift away from party anthems towards a more honest reflections on life. Cosial and Perrote’s vocals again weave and duel their way through breezy melodies and jangly guitar lines. The band’s youthful energy powers through on tracks Finally Floating and Rookie, while the likes of ‘Echoing My Name’ ooze upbeat, indie summer vibes.
“We’re not satisfied [with writing happy, young and carefree songs]… On this album the struggles are clear,” explained Perrote prior to its release. There’s a raw sense of self-criticism that we haven’t seen before, with tracks like New For You – while still playful and catchy – espousing self-doubt and post-adolescent anxieties: ‘Sometimes I see myself and I can’t stand my show! / I want to be somebody new for you.’
Hinds’ ability to produce infectious lo-fi tunes continues to impress, and this record promises another summer of sun-kissed guitar anthems.
8/10 Laura Copestake
Before Breakfast – Sticky Sweet
A brilliant mix of vocals, cello, keys, bass and sumptuous harmonies, Before Breakfast are already masters at writing songs which are honest, thoughtful and beautiful.
Kicking off the EP is the title track. Opening with the line ‘I fell through the rabbit hole’, you’re immediately taken on a broody, mesmerising journey. Next up is Caravan – a song about being unable to find comfort in your hometown. It’s light, dreamy and the most delicate offering, both lyrically and musically, with Gina Walter’s voice floating effortlessly and the band echoing behind.
Something Good explores the pressured need for gratification and looking good enough for someone else. Once again, the band’s harmonies are strong and continue to entrance. Ending the EP is Body, delivering another strong, pertinent message about body image and self-worth – with bold, vibrant sounds bursting out from every corner. It’s powerful, passionate and very impressive for a first offering from an exciting group.
8/10 Laura Copestake
Manuka Hive – R.E.D
After only stepping into a room together for the first time in October, it’s been a whirlwind beginning for Yorkshire outfit Manuka Hive. The band’s growing rep for stellar live shows have seen them support some of the region’s most exciting bands, with a European expedition also on the cards. And if this emphatic debut single is anything to go by, it probably won’t be their last venture overseas.
The track itself is punchy, to-the-point and frontman Charlie Phelps’ voice literally oozes rock ‘n’ roll. His hypnotic musings layer over meaty bass, exploding into a simple yet catchy chorus. The whole track has a brilliantly hazy vibe; you can’t help but sink in to it and let the aura wash over you. The real standout moment here is a breakdown before the final hook; the crunchy guitar work could make any local boozer feel like the O2 Arena, it’s a real pint-thrower that should go down a storm at their live sets.
If this is what a band only a few months into its lifespan can produce, then the future can only be bright for these chaps. With a touch of refinement, and perhaps the confidence to be more expansive – both of which will come with time – they could be on the cusp of something as sweet as their sugary namesake.
4/5 Nathan Warby