+manics albums: no. 7+

Let the list continue!

NUMBER SEVEN: GOLD AGAINST THE SOUL (June 21, 1993)
Favorite tracks: Life Becoming a Landslide, Sleepflower, La Tristesse Durera (Scream to a Sigh), Roses in the Hospital

I promise and I swear that the rest of this list does not go in chronological order, but as stated in my last post, it’s been difficult for me to connect with the earlier records. And to be honest, this album barely landed in the seventh position, narrowly being edged out by the album soon to appear in the sixth slot. I’m trying not to feel too bad, though. The band themselves reportedly like this album least of all their efforts.

Gold Against the Soul is one of the last Manics albums I bought as I worked through their back catalogue, and I remember how promising it seemed to hear the opener “Sleepflower.” As someone perpetually trying to catch up on sleep, this song spoke to me. It seems like such a mundane topic for a song, but if you’ve ever suffered from a chronic lack of sleep, especially one due to a troubled mind, you understand how it is that someone could write a passionate rock song about it. “From Despair to Where” and “La Tristesse Durera” were songs I recognized from the greatest hits compilation, and to this day they remain familiar friends of mine, especially “La Tristesse,” whose lyrics aptly describe the hollow feelings of a soldier returned home from war. To me, though, it’s a perfect anthem for anyone who feels underappreciated and unrecognized, someone who has resigned him or herself to an undeserved state of mediocrity and anonymity:

“Life has been unfaithful
And it all promised oh so much


I sold my medal
It paid a bill
It sells in market stalls
Parades Milan catwalks
Oh the sadness will never go…

Moving ahead, “Yourself” is a fine rock song, but to me it doesn’t compare with other similar songs in that style. And after that, we come to “Life Becoming a Landslide.” I adore this song, and yet my boyfriend despises it, considering it one of the worst songs ever written by this band. But I remember listening to it one day and thinking about Richey. I know all too well that feeling that your life is spiraling downward faster and faster, and all you can do is keep freefalling. I guess I just thought about how sensitive Richey was, and how life probably felt like an avalanche to him. I know I feel that way far too often, and sometimes it really helps me to listen to “Life Becoming a Landslide.” It sounds trite, but it just makes me feel less alone. And being a lyrics person, well…

My idea of love comes from
a childhood glimpse of pornography
Well there is no true love
Just a finely tuned jealousy

Life becoming a landslide
I don’t want to be a man

Life becoming a landslide
A mile empty inside

And because I connect so strongly with that song, the rest of the album seems out of place to me. There’s an astounding amount of despair to be found in the first five tracks, but the remainder of the songs are all so angry and yet peppy at the same time. So much screaming, so many loud guitars, and lots of anger, but without that melding of sound and sentiment that you find on The Holy Bible. For that reason the album doesn’t feel like a cohesive whole, but I do like the individual songs on their own. “Drug Drug Druggy” and “Roses in the Hospital” are a rocking one-two punch, and I love the line “We don’t want your f*cking love.” At this point, I could take or leave “Nostalgic Pushead” and “Symphony of Tourette.” It took a while, but I eventually did come to like the nasty groove of the title track closer. Still, the album leaves me feeling like I’ve missed something when it’s over.

Turning to the cover of the album…it’s not a photograph that makes me want to proudly grab this CD off the shelf and give it a spin. It’s just so…strange. Usually I can handle strange, but the photograph says nothing to me. If somebody knows what it’s supposed to mean, please, enlighten me.

So I guess I would say that Gold Against the Soul, while it’s got a couple of fantastic songs, feels incomplete in the end. Several of the songs show a definite growth from Generation Terrorists, though, and one is left with that promising feeling that, at the time, this was a band just about ready to get it together and create something really important.

Which is exactly what happened. But that is a story for another time…

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~ by Jennifer Cunningham on August 11, 2008.

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