[a]Manic Street Preachers[/a]' new album is released in early September, backed up with a TV appreciation of the band...

Manic Street Preachers will release their new album in the UK on September 7, accompanied by a BBC2 TV documentary about the band.

The as-yet untitled album features a duet between James Dean Bradfield and Sophie Ellis Bextor from Theaudience. Bradfield was in the crowd when Theaudience played London Camden Falcon last year and the bands share the same management. Two of the new album tracks also feature James Dean Bradfield playing a sitar and the album is said to be generally more keyboard-based than previous Manics albums.

NME understands that keyboardist Nick Naysmith's role in the band is now on a more permanent footing. Bradfield has told friends that he wanted a Simple Minds circa 'The American' (1981) feel for some of the tracks. To that end, they enlisted Apollo 440's Howard Gray to produce some of the tracks. Songs featured include 'Ready For Drowning', 'Born A Girl' and an as-yet unnamed song that was written from the standpoint of a Spanish Civil War combatant.

Nicky Wire, who has often talked about his interest in the Spanish Civil War, has called it the band's homage to The Clash's 'Spanish Bombs'. On the Manics' last UK tour, the souvenir T-shirt featured the famed quote from a Welsh farmer who'd volunteered to fight in Spain on the communist side: 'If I can shoot rabbits, I can shoot fascists.'

The band worked with four different producers on the album. They started off at Cardiff's Big Noise, moved to London's Whitfield Street Studios where they worked with Howard Gray and then flew to the French studio of Mike Hedges, who produced the band's last album 'Everything Must Go'.

The band also recorded with Gregg Haver, who worked on 'Everything Must Go', and Dave Eringa, who worked on 'Gold Against The Soul' and 'Motown Junk'. The album was mixed at George Martin's Air Studios in Hampstead, London.

An autumn UK tour has been scheduled but the band's office will not release the dates until July. The BBC2 documentary is directed by Mike Connelly, the man responsible for the recent acclaimed Shane MacGowan TV documentary, The Great Hunger. The Manics programme has been produced with the band's approval and participation - the first time the Manics have collaborated on any media overview of their career.

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