Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Manic Street Preachers – Jackie Collins Existential Question Time

Fantastic English flag on the right, there…


Martin Skidmore: If only they could write a song a tenth as good as this title.

Chuck Eddy: So, they are very important in England, no? They might even signify something? Well, in America they are not important at all, and at most signify Britishness — which makes the F train and baseball game in this song’s video strange. They’re sorta meaty for Brit-pop, but not so meaty for rock music. But there’s something unflimsy in the jangle and chime that reels me in; also helps that the song’s not very long. Don’t really get the words, though: I mean, what if the Catholic that the married man fucks is his wife?

Alfred Soto: The lyrics are a muddle, of course (“a Situationist sisterhood” doesn’t even read better than it sounds), but the guitar lines aren’t. What we have here then is another English band whose popularity remains a mystery to us – maybe even to themselves.

Alex Ostroff: Tonight we beg the question: If a married man fucks a Catholic in the woods and nobody hears it, is this song still a piece of shit? Most assuredly, yes. And you thought Regina Spektor was lyrically obvious.

Hillary Brown: Even if I liked the song, I’m not sure my usage nerd gland would let me approve of this flagrant misuse of the phrase “beg the question.”

Martin Kavka: Childish theology about one’s obligations to Catholics one has bedded + improper use of “begs the question” + weird fetishization of Collins sisters + completely undeserved screaming = song that teenagers will think is really deep and meaningful but is not.

Iain Mew: Reviewing this brings up issues that your average rock single doesn’t. It’s impossible to listen to without thinking about what could have been, hearing as a transmission from an alternate history where the Manics still number four and remain even more verbose. Yet this could only have emerged in its exact form from this history. For all the surface allusions of the album to The Holy Bible, they bring a playfulness and comparative lightness of touch that they’ve grown into since. On this occasion it gels really well with Richey’s words, pinging riffs bringing out the humour and absurdity of the verses and the confusion and loss that lurks behind the chorus biting in harder as a result.

Edward Okulicz: Disappointing. The lyrical conceit is actually silly, and while the verses make a decent stab at the uplifting rock of their Everything Must Go years, there’s an emptiness in the chorus. It can just about strain itself towards “loud”, but “intense” is a bridge too far here.

Ian Mathers: The last time they dragged out Richey’s lyrics, I don’t remember them being so horrifically bland and toothlessly ‘offensive’. James Dean Bradfield ought to know by now that he’s better off not singing things like “Oh mummy, what’s a Sex Pistol?”, let alone as the quasi chorus. They didn’t need to quit after the debut, but if they’d called it a day after This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours, we’d be better off.

Doug Robertson: Using Richey’s last writings for their new album was always going to be a bit of a risk, as it can not only give the impression of a band running out of ideas, but of a band trying to make a fast buck out of tragic circumstances. The Manics avoid the latter, treating his words with a respect and dignity that the still feather boa’d fans would expect, but musically this takes a step backwards. And not, alas, to the more visceral thrills of The Holy Bible, but to the more grown up, sophisticated, and slightly dull sounds that characterised the creative nadir of the This is My Truth, Tell Me Yours years. Still, the next album’ll be a return to form. But then, aren’t they always these days?

Additional Scores

Matt Cibula: [4]
Anthony Easton: [5]
Michaelangelo Matos: [5]

6 Responses to “Manic Street Preachers – Jackie Collins Existential Question Time”

  1. I think if we were talking almost any other track on the album I’d be much closer to the consensus here.

    Inevitable laughs at ‘another English band’ (they’re Welsh)

  2. Oops, I missed that William already did that one.

  3. They’re sorta meaty for Brit-pop, but not so meaty for rock music.

    Well, I wouldn’t really know if this is true, since as I said in the unabridged version of my review, as far as I know this is the first Manics song I’ve ever heard (probably not rare for somebody who comes from the country I do); if I heard others before, I forgot them right away. So my long-belated initial Manics opinion was only based on just one song. (Also thought the first half was better, when they tried less hard to sound manic — which I bet they’re not very good at.)

  4. they are very important in England, no? They might even signify something?

    So…..maybe what they signify there is Welshness? (Just a guess.)

  5. What a lame attempt at a review- the use of the phrase lyrical conceit is quite ironic given the pomposity of the review

  6. Not even Saint Etienne can save this…although they come really close.