+manics albums: no. 4+

After a bit of a break due to being busy and tired, we’re back with the top half of the Manics albums list!

NUMBER FOUR: EVERYTHING MUST GO (May 20, 1996)
Favorite tracks: Kevin Carter; Everything Must Go; A Design for Life; No Surface All Feeling; Interiors (Song for Willem De Kooning)

When I think about Everything Must Go, my first reaction is that it’s an average album. But even trying to pick my favorite tracks gets out of hand quickly, and I realize how many fantastic songs are on this record. And that’s why it’s here at number four on the list.

This was one of the first Manics albums I bought, and I remember especially liking the first half of the record a lot more than the second. “Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier” was (and is) an instant favorite, followed by four more top notch tracks to give this album an incredibly strong start. “A Design for Life” still sounds so beautiful to me, and I love the sounds of “Enola/Alone” and “Everything Must Go,” two energetic songs that epitomize this era of the Manics: plenty of intensity and rocking out, and yet a sound that is somehow incredibly catchy and even a bit pretty. And what can I say about “Kevin Carter”? It was probably my least favorite song when I first bought the greatest hits compilation, but over time, I don’t know… Once I figured out what the song was about, I found it to be absolutely genius. And it’s got a trumpet solo, for crying out loud! It doesn’t get any better than that. What was once my least favorite Manics song is now most often the one I want to hear most from this record.

Over time, the second half of the album, which I originally found a bit muddled and even boring, grew on me too. “Removables” is a much needed wake-up call after the softer, lighter “Small Black Flowers” and “The Girl Who Wanted to Be God.” I usually skip “Australia” (sorry Matt) after that, and head straight for the triple threat of awesomeness that ends this album. “Interiors” appeals to me because it is so damn catchy, and I just love how James yells “Fur-THER a-WAY!” Which brings us to the much needed comedown of “No Surface All Feeling,” a pleasant closer that wraps up the album like a bow on a Christmas present.

And why does “No Surface All Feeling” work so well here? Because it sums up the direction that the Manics took on this album: a more balanced sound between urgent, insistent punk music and the catchier, more melodic sounds of the Britpop movement. As all Manics fans know, this was the first album released after Richey’s disappearance, and it’s hybrid sound reflects the styles of the two songwriters of the Manic Street Preachers: Richey, whose lyrics called for a raw, rushed, harsh sound, and Nicky, whose lyrics gave James the space to polish the songs and play with the sounds. It was a blend that somehow worked to create a balanced, unified whole of an album, a bridge between the raw wounds of The Holy Bible and the overly big music of This Is My Truth. For a band in turmoil, they managed to find a new direction without losing the thread of what they had always stood for, producing a classic album in the process.

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~ by Jennifer Cunningham on September 1, 2008.

One Response to “+manics albums: no. 4+”

  1. This would be the #1 album on my list.

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