Caught the sun rising over East Lothian at the back of 7 am this morning. Although there were also drizzly spells, the eastern skies were aflame for 15-20 minutes, silhouetting gulls and oystercatchers feeding at the shoreline.
Playlist: Manic Street Preachers, The Ultra Vivid Lament (Rockfield, 2021)
Not many bands reach a stage in their career where they are releasing studio album number 14 with all the verve and enthusiasm as album number one. The Welsh alt rockers are still firing on all cylinders.
Chief songwriter Nick Wire lost both parents to cancer during the period following their 13th album Resistance is Futile (Columbia 2018) and the COVID-19 pandemic, so the lyrics balance introspection and personal loss, with more familiar territory - on 'Don't Let the Night Divide Us,' lead vocalist/guitarist James Dean Bradfield demonstrates the Manics are still angry young (at heart) men: "Don't let those boys from Eton suggest that we are beaten."
Opening track 'Still Snowing In Sapporo' hearkens back to 1993, reminiscing about the sense of the Manics being "the four of us against the world," invoking the tragic loss of original wordsmith Richey Edwards. But as well as nostalgia, this is an album fixed in the present, bursting with hooks and harmonies.