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The Manic Street Preachers’ campaign to yoke together populist music and radical politics – radical by the timid standards of other rock bands that is – often cancels itself out.
But the Welsh trio’s tendency to fall back on dull arena anthems is muted on Futurology, flaring up only briefly on the Simple Minds-channelling “Walk Me to the Bridge”.
Elsewhere themes of European identity and avant-garde art inspire some of their most satisfying songs for years.
“Europa Geht Durch Mich” is a gleefully over-the-top krautrock homage, German actress Nina Hoss sternly accompanying the Manics’ hearty singer James Dean Bradfield in the pro-Europe sloganeering.
“Divine Youth” has another guest, Welsh singer Georgia Ruth, in a dramatic ballad with expansive orchestrations and martial rat-a-tat drums while “Mayakovsky” is a jagged post-punk instrumental named after the 1920s Soviet futurist writer: not tremendously forward-looking, but proof the Manics’ best years aren’t entirely behind them.
Manic Street Preachers