We open up with the track “People Give In” and it’s a quaint little track essentially highlighting the fact that we’re all human at the end of the day…there’s a chirpiness to the track; a light, airy feel, backed but the Vulcan String Quartet and some sweeping string sections, while vocalist James Dean Bradfield sings of the up’s and down’s we endure in life and the tone here gives you a sense of ‘It’s OK…just try again’ and it’s an encouraging, positive listen. One of this album’s traits however according to bassist/lyricist Nicky Wire was that it was to capture the essence of both “Generation Terrorists” and “Everything Must Go”, with the sound designed to reflect upon that era of the band, and follow up track “International Blue” does a decent job of this…with Bradfield’s distinct vocals and wailing guitar sequences, coupled with a simplistic melody it’s trademark MSP and an enjoyable listen.
This ideology is proven further by the likes of “Broken Algorithms” which harbors a subtle sense of early punk-rock which made the band famous in their formative years; the guitars having more attitude, with Sean Moore on drums then having more of an assertive presence…the overall tone being more youthful and in typical Manic’s manner they tackle society and its flaws, while “Sequels Of Forgotten Wars” utilizes more gritty guitar and the message of never-ending conflict; “There will be no parades for the likes of us” because the war is never over, the ‘blue screen’ a possible metaphor for the government and how they conduct themselves etc, they can manipulate what they want you to see and know, keeping the war machine going.
Elsewhere “Hold Me Like A Heaven” uses everything from acoustic melodies to lulling synths and gang vocal harmonies to create a truly relaxing sonic experience, wonderfully easy listening, while “Dylan & Caitlyn” mirrors this with an orchestral-led collaboration with THE ANCHORESS, (Welsh singer Catherine Davies) her vocals adding extra character to the albums overall presentation. The rest of the album pretty much captures exactly what Wire set out to do; it’s a modern take on a sound that made the band what they are today and it’s a nice little trip down memory lane for long-time fans. Lyrically astute and instrumentally crisp as always, song writing has always been a strength of these Welshmen and here they prove that yet again, in terms of story-telling through song, they’ve always been among the best. However, despite spawning an impressive five singles, none of them are entirely memorable as instant hits when compared to the level of quality in their back catalog. Still though…13 albums in and they’re still preaching, credit to them.