Manic Street Preachers: Resistance Is Futile review – defeat and defiance


At first glance, the title of Manic Street Preachers’ 13th album hits like one among the many ebullient slogans they’ve fired out over the years. All rock’n’roll is homosexual! Self-disgust is self-obsession! Resistance is futile! Yet their latest aphorism, an unlikely borrowing from hive-minded Star Trek villains the Borg, comes as loaded with melancholy as provocation. These songs, in which the rough-edged art-punk core of the Manics’ earliest days needles through mature, accomplished lushness, are heavy with a sense of the passing of all things and an uncertainty about their place in the world: “There will be no parades for the likes of us / The wars we fight are doomed to be lost,” frets the glitteringly sharp Sequels of Forgotten Wars.

For every note of defeat, though, there’s a roar of defiance. People Give In also asserts that “people stay strong”, its music box-like guitar line ricocheting anxiously up and down before resolving into a sunburst-through-clouds riff’n’string chorus. International Blue’s tribute to Yves Klein, too, glows with bright energy and hope, while Dylan & Caitlin, featuring the Anchoress, turns the darkness of the Thomases’ alcoholic romance into an effervescent homage to Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.

Manic Street Preachers: Resistance Is Futile – trailer

Just as he did with 2014’s hard-to-follow triumph Futurology, Nicky Wire has hinted that Resistance Is Futile is “either a new era or the end”. “What is the future of the future?” riddles James Dean Bradfield on Hold Me Like a Heaven, in which “tattered manifestos litter the mind”. In place of certainties, comfort comes in the form of a ravishing chorus buoyed by warm woahh-ohhh-ohhhs. If this Sailing to Byzantium period didn’t suit them so well, you’d wish the Manics would stop being so hard on themselves. You can see why a band fond of grand statements, such as taking Noam Chomsky samples to the top of the pop charts, would question if just releasing more excellent Manic Street Preachers albums was enough. But their willingness to turn an ever-critical eye on themselves as well as on a changing world is what makes Resistance Is Futile so emotionally engaging, and more than enough to justify the future of their future.


Emily Mackay

The GuardianTramp

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