CD: Manic Street Preachers, Lifeblood

(Sony)

More power to them for almost topping the chart this week with The Love of Richard Nixon. The fact that Nicky Wire's perverse lyric is encased in the smoothest drivetime pop proves the Manics are still unrivalled at mixed messages. Not bad for a 15-year-old band, especially one whose last (disappointing) album was three years ago. The lay-off germinated the usual clutter of ideas gleaned from books and films and their best tunes in years.

James Dean Bradfield has checked his use of his voice as aural paint-stripper, and the nuanced sound that remains is in tune with the album's mix of influences, including jazz and psychedelia. With Cardiff Afterlife you wonder how Richey Edwards would feel about being eulogised by a song featuring a psychedelic harmonica. Pleased, hopefully. The album concerns "the trivialisation of death", but this band has a lot of life still in them.

Contributor

Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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