Masses Against The Classes

Manic Street Preachers Masses Against The Classes (Epic)

Manic Street Preachers

Masses Against The Classes[I] (Epic)[/I]

Nothing to do with the next Manics album according to Nicky Wire, which is a shame as it’s the first time in ages where they don’t sound like they’re off trout fishing the moment they leave the studio. Shaking off the green Wellingtons and tartan bodywarmers of ever-encroaching rockistocracy, ‘Masses Against The Classes’ is an attempted return to the primordial punk slime of their birth, raging against, hmm, [I]something [/I]with much angst and less coherence.

Old Manics, New Manics, it’s immaterial: for all the radical eyeliner, they’ve always been an inherently conservative band, hung up on the idea of the male gang, the rock dream, the right quotes felt-tipped on the army surplus schoolbag. Prefaced by a quote from Noam Chomsky (like, [I]surprise[/I]), opening with the Glitter-esque line, [I]”Hello, it’s us again”[/I] and ditching anything approaching scansion in favour of fleeting Nirvana dynamics, daft harmonies and enough distortion to make Jeffrey Archer proud, it actually sounds like it means something. Even if the only really affecting line is the typically moody, [I]”We love the winter – it brings us closer together”[/I]. Even if you can’t help thinking that they’re just slumming it.

They’re just about likeable again when they go and spoil it all at the last minute with a preposterously bellowed quote from Camus: [I]”A slave begins by demanding justice and ends by wanting to wear a crown”[/I]. Write that on your rough book and feel like a man. Still, a return to form. The fifth form, really, but never mind. They’ve always ruled the school.

Victoria Segal