Manic Street Preachers need very little introduction as they’ve carved their name in British musical history. ‘The Ultra Vivid Lament’ marks their fourteenth studio album which is an impressive figure for any band.
For ‘The Ultra Vivid Lament’, Manics have made a departure from their usual method of songwriting and for the first time, wrote each song on piano rather than guitar. This new approach leads to an altogether more poppy and relaxed album with piano and acoustic forming a large part of the tracks, forgoing their usual in-your-face hard rock. Musically, Manics have said that ‘The Ultra Vivid Lament’ is inspired by bands such as ABBA and Roxy music. The ABBA influence can be heard in tracks such as ‘The Secret He Had Missed’ and ‘Quest For Ancient Cover’ with the piano leading the way, lending each song a more classic pop feel.
Opener ‘Snowing In Sapporo’ feels more like classic Manics with it’s driving guitar and huge chorus that feels instantly recognisable. Despite the move to poppier climbs, Manics still have that political and social spark reflected in James Dean Bradfield’s lyrics. For instance, of ‘Orwellian’ they say “The track is about the battle to claim meaning…..factional conflict driven by digital platforms leading to a perpetual state of culture war”. So though the music may be lighter than Manics usual work, the usual content can still be found in the lyrics.
It’s interesting to see a band this far in to their career still try to push themselves in terms of songwriting and try something new. You may think you know Manic Street Preachers but they’ve still found a way to change it up. They may be fourteen albums deep but they’re showing no signs of stopping.