Futurology, the 12th studio album by Manic Street Preachers, released 2017 and serves as a sequel to their 2014 release, Rewind the Film.
On the first day I got this album, I lovingly caressed the signature on the cover and eagerly flipped through the pages with a sense of longing. Admittedly, as a fan of The Manics, I may be biased towards writing about this album in a positive light.
Released- 7 July 2014
Studio – Faster Studios, Cardiff, Wales Hansa Studios, Berlin, Germany
Label – Columbia
Producers – Manic Street Preachers Alex Silva Loz Williams
The last album, Rewind the Film, they willingly accepted aging. And they put a continuation in this series to move forward. But to move forward requires the use of past experiences. Looking back is one of the important things in our lives. Futurology is filled with lyrics that convey Nicky Wire’s sentiment of nostalgia and aging.
While I personally prefer the early Manic Street Preachers albums that feature Richey Edwards, I understand that the band cannot simply revert back to their original style.
Even their most recent attempt at capturing raw emotion, Journal for the Plague Lovers, doesn’t quite match the intensity of their early work.
As fans, we must recognize that the band has evolved and matured over time, and we must grow alongside them as they continue to move forward.
HEAD TO THE FUTURE IN FUTUROLOGY
Futurology is not just a mere follow-up album, but rather a sequel to its predecessor, Rewind the Film. The album name itself hints at the connection between the two, with its focus on both the past and the future.
While Rewind the Film explores the past with a sober and introspective tone, Futurology looks towards the future with a more energetic and lively approach. The album’s overall message appears to encourage listeners to embrace both the past and the future, finding a balance between the two
The future does seem to rely on the past for inspiration.Nicky Wire
The Manics suggest that the future is influenced by the past, as evidenced by the relationship between these two albums.
If approached with a lighthearted perspective, Nicky Wire might describe this connection as half exhaustion, reflecting the experiences of a 40-year-old man navigating through life.
It was interesting to learn about the creative process behind Futurology. In interviews, James and Nicky mentioned being influenced by bands like Kraftwerk, Neu!, and Cabaret Voltaire.I was curious to see how these influences would manifest in the music, particularly whether they would incorporate more synthesizers.
This had me wondering whether the album would be similar to their previous effort, Lifeblood, which some fans found underwhelming. However, as a fan of their rock sound, I was still hopeful that the Manics would deliver on their promise to rock out on this album.
The Manics recorded both Futurology and its predecessor Rewind the Film at Hansa studio, where iconic artists like Lou Reed and David Bowie had previously recorded some of their most significant albums, including ‘Heroes.’ The iconic album was born in this studio,
Hope that the atmosphere of such a legendary studio has helped Manic Street Preachers create their fantastic sounds.
As previously mentioned, the Manics believe that the future draws inspiration from the past, and this sentiment is evident in their album, Futurology.
The sound of the early 80s, particularly that of the new wave, is prominent throughout the album. The opening track, “Futurology,” rocks with a new wave / post punk vibe, enhanced by the use of a synthetic voice to modernize the sound.
I must confess that the first time I listened to “Walk Me to the Bridge,” I thought it was a song about Richey, especially as it starts with the lines “Driving slowly to the bridge, with nothing left that we can give. We smile at this ugly world, it never really suited you.”
However, as I learned later, the song was actually inspired by a drive across the Øresund Bridge that connects Denmark and Sweden, and references the German expressionist group Die Brücke (The Bridge).
This is a testament to the way The Manics often infuse their music with cultural and historical references, making their songs not just musically compelling, but intellectually stimulating as well.
Let’s Go To War” maintains the early ’80s New Wave sound, taking inspiration from John Lydon’s Public Image Ltd. “The Next Jet To Leave Moscow,” on the other hand, has a krautrock influence, featuring an industrial clattering rhythm. and increase the industrial sound in “Europa Geht Durch Mich,” with an upbeat energy that blends pop songs with craft full krautrock.
The producer, Alex Silva, skillfully blends the retro elements with modern electronic sounds, creating a fresh and contemporary vibe to the music.
The album doesn’t come off as an attempt to recreate their early sound, but rather a seamless blend of the past and present. While initially, I was worried that the album would sound like a repeat of Lifeblood, but as I listened more, I began to trust that it was not the case.
This time, The Manics seamlessly incorporated influences from past music into their sound, some songs similar feel to 70s glam rock or even a David Bowie Berlin-era song.
Upon listening to it again, it becomes clear that it’s The Manics, but with a subtle nod to the past. It’s almost as if they’re wearing a disguise, but their signature sound still shines through.
The personal touch is evident in every aspect of the album, from the lyrics to the music itself. “Sex, Power, Love and Money” has a similar mood to their first album, but with a mature twist.
The Manics’ lyrics have evolved and matured over the course of many albums. Their early radical and rebellious spirit has transformed into a more introspective and thoughtful view of the world.
However, some fans may miss the rawness of their earlier work. It’s natural for songwriters to change as they get older and their worldview and life experiences shift. Despite this, the rebellious spirit is still present in their lyrics, albeit in a more relaxed and nuanced form than before.
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