Eleven albums in, the Manic Street Preachers have discovered subtlety. Not in their lyrics: those are as blunt as ever, particularly when communicating their dismay at growing old. "How I hate middle age, in between acceptance and rage," from Builder of Routines, hammers to the heart of things: these are songs that wallow in nostalgia but also refute it, deny hope then wish for the impossible. The delicacy is all in the settings. The title track offsets a ruminative guest vocal from Richard Hawley with a silvery riff lifted, brilliantly, from a tribute to William Blake by David Axelrod. The lilting guitar line of This Sullen Welsh Heart trickles like a mountain stream; but there's also a hint of militarism in its rhythm, as if the defeated admission that "I can't fight this war any more" had infected every fibre of the song. Sometimes the marriage of sentiment and sound is more obvious – a cod-Japanese twang opens (I Miss the) Tokyo Skyline, and there's an ominous rattle beneath 3 Ways to See Despair – but it doesn't undermine the thoughtfulness of their restraint.
Manic Street Preachers: Rewind the Film – review