Manic Street Preachers - Send Away The Tigers

It goes down so many uncommercial and certainly unfashionable avenues that it really shouldn't appeal to you at all, but it probably will.

 

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When you think of the Manic Street Preachers, what comes to mind first? Chances are, each of you will have a different image formed in your minds. Some of you will see them in feather boas, bad make up and spray painted t-shirts. Some will see military fatigues and pictures of Mao Tse Tung. Others will imagine three middle aged blokes in polo shirts and trainers. Of course, each and every one of you would be correct because the Manic Street Preachers mean different things to different people. If you look back over their career you'll probably see peaks and troughs in terms of commercial success, but what you'll also see is a band that have changed their image almost as many times as David Bowie, attracting a different audience with each passing album. Whether it's been by choice or, more often than not, necessity, the Manic Street Preachers have evolved from album to album, shifting the perception of what exactly it means to be a Manic Street Preacher fan.

 

With Send Away The Tigers they've done it again, only this time, instead of trying to destroy what's gone before, they've decided to try and put it all back together again, just to try and figure out what it's all been about.

 

Send Away The Tigers is like an affectionate look through a photo album. It'll bring images to mind of all stages of their development. Plus, you'll probably end up laughing at half of it. This album sees the band trying to reconnect with some of the stuff that got them excited in the first place. Lyrically this is most evident on the title track, there are so many words crammed into each line James is almost gasping for air by the first chorus and we haven't heard anything like that since The Holy Bible. Musically, it's a gas. If I'm honest it'll probably turn you off to start with, because it'll make you think of bands and styles of music you probably hate - or at least stuff you wouldn't own up to owning, but Send Away The Tigers is a guilty pleasure and if you give it your time, you'll realise that this is the most uplifting record they've ever created. Send Away The Tigers is about having a good time. This is the sound of a band looking back on their past and although there's a hint of sadness, a bit of remorse and regret - and with their back story how could there not be? - overall this is an affectionate album, not only for the band themselves but also for the fans - check out Underdogs, which is nothing but a big thank you to all those who have stuck by them since the beginning. As middle aged men the Manic Street Preachers have realised that they have a lot to be proud of, a lot to be thankful for and a lot to sit back and laugh about and so here, they truly go for it. They don't give a fuck anymore, they're just out to enjoy themselves and enjoy themselves they do. This is the sound of a band doing what they do best and simply getting a kick out of it.

 

Send Away The Tigers contains some of their most anthemic songs to date. First single Your Love Alone Is Not Enough is pure pop perfection. Classy, polished and totally addictive, it even includes the sultry vocals of Nina Persson of the Cardigans. Indian Summer seems destined to become a live favourite and not only because if follows a similar beat to the fabulous A Design For Life. Then there's Autumnsong, which sums up the Manic Street Preachers better than anything they've ever done. It really, really, shouldn't work but it does and it works wonders. The opening guitar line is reminiscent of nothing other than Guns N' Roses' Sweet Child Of Mine and it just gets bigger and more over the top from there on out. This is as big and bombastic as Springsteen's Born To Run, (it even contains handclaps!), and the fact that the band have just run with it makes it so enjoyable. They certainly don't hold anything back - just listen to the guitar solo! I swear to you, it's fantastic.

 

I'm Just A Patsy may be a bit too Bon Jovi like for some and I'm still not entirely sure about why I like the rockabilly Imperial Bodybags so much? The band have suggested it's a bit like The Cramps, but it's also one step removed from Skid Row and Dave Lee Roth, which is quite worrying, but thankfully I can always send you in the direction of The Second Great Depression, which is worth the price of admission alone. Gloriously anthemic, with soaring guitars and the type of drum beat designed to call 60,000 people to attention, it builds and builds into a chorus of utter delight. It's as good as anything they've ever done and the best thing about it is that you know that they're the only band that could have come up with it.

 

Send Away The Tigers is many things. It goes down so many uncommercial and certainly unfashionable avenues that it really shouldn't appeal to you at all, but it probably will. Which is what The Manics have been like all along. In some ways it's the album you've been waiting for and in others it's the album you probably never wanted but in the end it's the type of thing you'll look back on with affection and revisit a lot. Rather like those photo albums.

 

Words : Damian Leslie