Over the last few years I have steered steadily away from more ‘commercial’ releases. I have a couple of Manic Street Preachers albums, but those are from 15 years ago. I thought: great what they do but I am moving away from stadium stuff, even though I had huge respect for a group whose left wing credentials seem to have remained intact and whose critique of dominant pop culture mores remained unstinting.
But last year, I saw the lead singer on a BBC4 ‘songwriters circle’ and it reminded me that he could write, play and sing just as well away from the stadium as on a small stage. This album is written from the perspective of 45 year old men, not trying to pretend to be anyone else. It does not have much ‘stadium’ about it (although there is another album forthcoming that is much harder edged) and for the Manic Street Preachers, is softer. I was talking to someone last night about this album who is 14 years younger than me and he said he didn’t ‘get’ this one. I said I did: it has that mid/late 40s perspective: an awareness that your dominance is passing, that although you still feel younger you are aware of the finiteness of things, of children growing and parents fading.
This is the title track: a sign of your confidence in your mid 40s is that you don’t have to dominate, so Richard Hawley takes over most of the singing. His output yearns back to the 50s and his voice, the theme of the song and the film fit beautifully. It is almost impossible not to be moved.