Manic Street Preachers
Personally, Ive always got on pretty well with this record. Its one which was dependable and you had good times with, but you kind of dont see much, but when you do youre like aaah, yes, this is nice, I remember this.
It has its moments. In terms of singles its actually one of the stronger MSP records. Roses in the Hospital, La Tristesse Durera, From Despair to Where and Life Becoming a Landslide have all pretty much remained in rotation in Manics set lists.
Where GATS falls down is on those other album tracks. Opening track Sleepflower aside, the non-single album tracks here arent amazing to be fair. Symphony of Tourette has an interesting idea behind it but comes across as a bit of a bad attempt at metal. Yourself has an annoying riff throughout which sounds like a ghost train. Nostalgic Pushead is instantly forgettable. Title track Gold Against the Soul is immediately dated by loops and being rooted lyrically in the politics of the time. Finally, Drug Drug Druggy is the most obvious attempt at producing a hit single musically (despite ironically not being released as a single) but fails to match this with dire lyrical content.
But as I say, I do genuinely like this record. If Generation Terrorists was their punk inspired rush towards oblivion, and The Holy Bible is their suicidal nihilism come real, then GATS sits in that middle point where one contemplates life in an altogether more introspective way.
Look at some of these opening lyrics: I write this alone in my bed / Ive poisoned every room in my house, Morning always seems to stale to justify, Life has been unfaithful / And it all promised so so much. This isnt a fuck you record this is a Jesus, what have I done and where the fuck am I going? record.
Biggest selling point (as always) is the inclusion of the hard to find B-sides from the era. Donkeys is one of their best B-sides of the early years and is definitely worth checking out if only to hear James croon Put some lipstick on / At least your lies will be pretty. Patrick Bateman is a ridiculous metal pastiche (though I get the distinct impression this wasnt exactly done tongue in cheek at the time) detailing admiration for the titular American Psycho and includes the not at all entirely PC refrain I fucked God up the ass. Charming.
Hibernation is one of my favourite quieter Manics B-sides and one of their most forgotten. Comfort Comes is interesting in that it signalled the move musically from GATS towards the more lo-fi goth (goth with a small g, remember) musicality of The Holy Bible. Basically, it sounds like Faster upside down. A few live cover versions (The Clashs Whats My Name, Happy Mondays Wrote for Luck, McCarthys Charles Windsor) and a shit load of demos of the album make up the rest of the package. Oh, and about four billion remixes of Roses in the Hospital.