Aaaaargh! Eeeesh! Oooof! Concerned faces! Furrowed brows! Isn’t the internet just awful?! Social media! SOCIAL FUCKING MEDIA! Facebook and Myspace and shit!! They’ve ruined the world! They’ve destroyed a whole generation!! That teenager who you follow on Instagram who keeps posting pictures of her pert young tiddies straining against a tight vest provided by Shein’s new line? Don’t you just hate her?? Her narcissism is destroying society! Havea look at the next photo. Eugh! I’ve never seen such a narcissistic bitch! Scroll down. My God! Look at those tight narcissistic abs and those horrendously self-absorbed nipples visible through that egotistical Pretty Little Things top! Let’s see how bad the next photo is…
The Manic Street Preachers are the greatest rock band ever. That’s not an opinion, it’s a conclusion that I’ve reached and am now saying it loudly and not listening to any dissenting voices, which in 2021 counts as a ‘fact’.
Their greatness is… complicated… and not easy to explain in a simple intro to a blog post… These 100 tracks aren’t necessarily the greatest songs ever. Even as a pathetically dedicated Manics stan*, even I would argue that they’ve only ever released one indisputable, stone cold classic record from front to back (see if you can guess which one after you read the list!). They may have supernatural control over melodies and how best to ensure a chorus hits just there, but at the end of the day they’re just a rock band. They have never really challenged the very boundaries of music, never pushed things forward or necessarily introduced anything new sonically. I would argue that only one of their albums is truly challenging and experimental, rather than just being a break from what the band usually produce (yeah, it’s the same album…). I mean, Jesus, they once shamelessly released a song including the lyric “The world is full of refugees/They’re just like you and just like me“. That’s unforgivably bad, isn’t it? They can’t come back from that, artistically.
(*I may occasionally use cool, groovy, young person lingo like ‘stan’ so you think I’m a hip young gunslinger. Not, y’know, old enough to be a Manics fan)
I’m not able to explain their magic here, but over the next one hundred (!) entries you’ll hopefully all have a better idea. It’s not as dominated by the 90’s as I was worried it might be, and every album is represented (apart from one. Because their tenth album is worse than Hitler). I’ve been wanting to find the time to do this for ages, partially inspired by the great What is Music podcast covering their entire discography and reminding me of how many big veiny stonkers this band had bulging out of their collective musical swimming trunks. They’re talking about Muse on that podcast now, a band for morons, so you only need to listen to the last season. My major blind spot is I don’t think they’ve done a decent b-side since 2001. Now, I’m sure I’m wrong, so please correct my ignorance in the comments. Tell me how wrong I am. Post your top tens. Your top hundreds. The Manic Street Preachers’ fan community is one of the greatest in the world, and no other band are as connected with their fanbase and feed off their adoration as much as The Manics. So let’s celebrate that by calling me a fat slut in the comments because I didn’t choose Little Baby Nothing.
OK, remember when I told you that there were so many fantastic records released this year? Well, that pretty much starts here, as Vritra’s
roughly 6’903rd record is yet another example of the unique and intoxicating talents of perhaps the least sufficiently appreciated (former??) member of Odd Future. If this is your first Vritra album, the rapping and musical styles one or two notches above clinically comatose will be sure to bewitch you for a solid half hour (do not listen to while operating heavy machinery etc), but the lack of real evolution of change of styles between records can mean a dangerous sense of disposability and lack of individual character can set in when you listen to multiple records. Like, the guy has released about three albums since that wonderful album with Wilma Archer last year that I didn’t even notice. Which, to be fair, is a docile forgetfulness that’s very on brand.
Yeah, sorry, no more Bumble Rumble. Possibly… ever…? Listen, I’ve pretty much decided that I hate Zero Hour dating- I happen to still believe that I’m relatively attractive, so to have an app on my phone that frequently reminds me that I’m actually not is not good at all for my already inflated yet easily pricked sense of self-esteem. For now, my official stance is that I know that I’m a highly fuckable piece of hunky man meat who could grind genitals with pretty much any woman he wants, but I just choose not to, OK?? The official stance is that I’ve decided to concentrate on the more important things in my life, such as this blog- which has never been more popular- and my actual job- which I’m technically supposed to be doing now*. Remember this blog? It used to be about music, didn’t it? I mean… kinda… Let’s do that again. Basically, it’s time for:
Just wanted a photo with my eyes in it. Have they always been that colour? More after the jump!!
At the Little Simz entry at number 4, I worried that the ceaseless and heartless explosion of ‘news’ and ‘takes’ and ‘bullshit’ that is modern life only succeeded in confirming rather than challenging our prejudices and turning us against even family members as we’re convinced that political allegiances are the one thing that dictates whether human life is worth even considering.
Then there was Elbow at number 3, throwing their hands up in the air and wailing as they wondered what’s even the point of Elbow anymore?! There’s no sense of togetherness for them to soundtrack! The world hates itself now, and to espouse the sort of optimism and confidence that they used to would risk making them sound ridiculously out of touch! 2019 is grim, it’s paranoid, it hates it’s fellow human because, chances are, the fellow human hates them just as much so it’s best to return a shot! Then there was Sudan Archives making the second best album of the year by essentially mainstreaming her sound and making as many bangers as possible. So yeah, hear that Nick Cave? Make sure your album has as many bangers as possible, yeah?
Surely Nick Cave would be most affected by this new era of mistrust and negative assumptions. Not only has he previously made a career over detailing bad motherfuckers who would “Crawl over fifty good pussies just to get to one fat boy’s asshole“, but he would surely be more angry than most at life’s unfair and brutal nature after his 15 year old son died in 2015. He had already released ‘Skeleton Tree‘ in 2016, a broken and grim album interjected with occasional explosive pulses of agony, over which Cave sounded emotionally bereft and often numb. It was mostly a dark, hopeless reaction to a tragedy that today’s climate demands. Wallow in your misery! You’re all alone! Nobody gives a shit and anyone who does is probably racist, or something!! Mmmmm, yes, Nick Cave, feed me on your despondent tears!!
Just to let you know, dear reader, at times in this article it may sound like I’m derogating the general situation or decrying a loss of civility in wider society or lame things like that, but I am actually complaining about you personally, as your own behaviour is at the centre of what I’m talking about and it is completely within your power to address it. And, I’m sorry, but if you consider yourself left wing then you really are chiefly what I’m thinking of. We cool? We cool??
If you are left wing, you are (generally, generally, generally!!) concerned with supporting the community rather than the individual but also want the state to make it as easy as possible for a human being to express themselves freely and with a truly equal framework of opportunity. That’s cool and- you know what?- I probably agree with you. If you are right wing you are (generally! Gen-er-motherfuckin’-ly!!!) concerned more with allowing the more successful people as little impediments to their achievements as possible, you think the best state is one that interferes as little as possible, that things like high taxes and overzealous bureaucracy only discourages human potential. You (GENERALLY!!!!) thank that to support the less successful financially is actually just encouraging people to ‘do nothing’ and removes the impetus for them to truly excel. That’s cool. I don’t agree, but we both honestly believe that our positions on society are what’s best for either the good of the community/country/world or just, y’know, yourself and your own family. Maybe the latter’s more important to you. Maybe the former’s more important to me only because it will increase the good of the latter. Maybe we both think that the former plays a part in improving the latter but without the latter being dealt with the former has no chance but without the former being stabilised we don’t even have a latter but then what is the former if not just a larger collection of latters and the latter and the former both need to somehow work in synergy? Yes, that’s probably the one statement we can all agree with.
Just… gorgeous. ‘Bigness’ seems almost like it was intended as something of a wry, ironic name, as Mr Darling deals in ostensibly small scale music. His songs can initially seem so slight, polite, inoffensive and casual, all linked with a voice so hesitant and unassuming that it’s the volume and urgency that a fruit fly might adopt if it wanted to get the waiter’s attention at Costa Coffee to inquire as to what was taken its Hazelnut Praline & Cream Latte so long but didn’t want to make too much fuss. The tags that the album is identified with on Bandcampare alternative; bedroom pop; christchurch; new zealand; pop; indie; indie pop; Christchurch, which tells you one thing… Well no, it firsts lets you know that Pickle Darling is from Christchurch, New Zealand, as he’s so keen for you to realise that that he states it twice, but the second thing that the tags tell you is that ‘Bigness’ is a bit of a cheery, unassuming and- in the words of Helltown– ‘bedroom bullshit‘ kind of record. It’ll be fine. It’ll be cheery, a little bit twee but well meaningfully pleasant. Most of all though, it’ll be small.
On ‘CURSEBREAKER X’*, Equip step shit up massively. Previously, the less forgiving may have accused them of being more gimmick than legitimate artist. Every album, like 2018’s ‘Synthetic Core 88‘, came with the hook that it was the soundtrack to a video game that existed nowhere but inside Equip’s imagination. This inspired some incredible music, but for many the conceit would be far too ‘cute’ and even ‘eye rollingly hipster’ to bridge that gap between ‘concept you might appreciate’ and ‘music you unreservedly love’. ‘CURSEBREAKER X’ doesn’t just bridge that gap, it clears it in a single bound by casting a +50 COMPOSITIONS spell and fills the cavern beneath it with buffed power ups as it flies over. Equip breaks the game with WWE 2K20 level glitches that make it unplayable, because they’re playing something else entirely with ‘CURSEBREAKER X’.
(*we’ve seen far too many artists recently, from awakebutstillinbed to Ariana Grande to repeat offender american poetry club, show such a flagrant disregard for proper capitalisation that I’m pleased to see Jamila Woods, Michael Kiwanuka and now Equip have fought against this by, if anything, overcapitalising their records. I’m pleased to officially announce 2019 as The Year We Won Our Capital Back)
If this blog has one true aim, then it’s to introduce and promote new…
Well… no, actually, if this blog has one true aim then it’s to extensively psychoanalyse myself and admit my private shame into what I believe to be essentially ‘The Void’, all under the laughable pretense of ‘reviewing music’. Ha! I haven’t done any ‘music reviews’ since I was highly scathing as a twelve/six year old of the 1996 Dodgy album ‘Free Peace Sweet‘. Three piece suite! Now I get it! Sorry, Dodgy, that review was unnecessarily harsh. Reappraisal: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
OK, but if this blog had a secondary aim, then it’s to introduce and promote new artists to…
No, the secondary aim is just an excuse to talk about Manic Street Preachers as much as possible, isn’t it? With ‘Official Prince Chat’ sprinkled on the side as garnish. I might just rename the blog to ‘Artists I Liked When I Was a Kid, At Length (While I Wait for the Next Hotelier Album)’. Dot WordPress dot com.
“If it had a third purpose it’d be […] no actually it’d be [BANTER]. In that case the fourth purpose would be […] actually, it’d probably be [STONE COLD MEGALOLZ]. But the fifth purpose would definitely be… (repeat)”