“People get tired / People get old / People get forgotten / People get sold,” go the first words of ‘People Give In’ – the opening track of Manic Street Preachers’ 13th studio album. Firmly into the third decade of their career, one characterised by wilful stubbornness and the ability to wrong-foot preconceptions at every turn (not least by often throwing out a completely mainstream-embracing chart hit), you sense they’ve done that one on purpose. Now all on the cusp of 50, these are worries that could arguably be lobbied at the Welsh trio. Of course, they’d be unfounded, but it is a less vitriolic Manics that we encounter on ‘Resistance Is Futile’ nonetheless.
Channelling the more expansive, widescreen melodies of 1996’s ‘Everything Must Go’, much of ‘RIF’ runs on big, air-punching choruses helmed by James Dean Bradfield’s still-powerhouse vocal. Even though the likes of ‘Dylan And Caitlin’ (a duet with The Anchoress on Dylan Thomas and wife Caitlin Macnamara’s tempestuous marriage) or the poignant nostalgia of ‘In Eternity’ – seemingly a sentimental ode to former bandmate Richey Edwards – are thematically complex, they’re coated in unabashedly big hooks. It’s a classic Manics trick and one that still works; across 12 tracks though, you do start to crave the spray-painted antagonists of old to pop up every now and then.
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