Manic Street Preachers return with their 14th studio album The Ultra Vivid Lament on 3rd September 2021 released on Columbia/Sony and have announced a tour for this autumn. ‘Orwellian’ – the first track to be released (today – 14th May) – is a chiming piano pop song influenced by Abba‘s ‘I Have a Dream’, that juxtaposes almost jaunty glacial melodies, and disco bass lines with a weighty lyrical theme about the misuse of words and the divisions created by the culture war, another departure for a band that like to surprise their fanbase, listen below.
Manic Street Preachers on Orwellian: “The track is about the battle to claim meaning, the erasing of context within debate, the overriding sense of factional conflict driven by digital platforms leading to a perpetual state of culture war. As with many songs on the record, it was written on the piano by James Dean Bradfield. Musically, it echoes ABBA, the majesty of Alan Rankine’s playing in the Associates and Talk Talk’s ‘It’s My Life’ with a Lindsey Buckingham guitar solo. It felt like the perfect sonic and lyrical introduction to ‘The Ultra Vivid Lament’.”
‘The Ultra Vivid Lament’ is both reflection and reaction; a record that gazes in isolation across a cluttered room, fogged by often painful memories, to focus on an open window framing a gleaming vista of land melting into sea and endless sky.
‘The Ultra Vivid Lament’s’ eleven tracks marry introspection, quiet rage and tunes. Those elements are there throughout, from the opening ambient hum of ‘Snowing In Sapporo’ to the galloping ‘The Secret He Had Missed’s’ push-and-pull duet imagining dialogue between Welsh brother and sister artists Augustus and Gwen John; via ‘Diapause’s’ sublime contemplation and ‘Happy Bored Alone’s’ stoic wishful thinking.
Musically, ‘The Ultra Vivid Lament’ is inspired by a formative years record box (ABBA, post-Eno Roxy, the Bunnymen, Fables-era REM, Lodger) though the end result could only be the unique union of James Dean Bradfield, Nicky Wire and Sean Moore.
A departure from their last release (2018’s Resistance is Futile), ‘The Ultra Vivid Lament’ is the first Manic Street Preachers album initially conceived on piano rather than guitar. It was recorded over winter 2020/21 in Wales at Rockfield in Monmouth and the bands’ Door to the River studio in Newport with long-time collaborator Dave Eringa (The Who), before being mixed by David Wrench (Blossoms, Frank Ocean, Arlo Parks). The album features two guest vocalists: Julia Cumming (Sunflower Bean) on ‘The Secret He Had Missed’ and Mark Lanegan on ‘Blank Diary Entry’. There are exclusive signed copies, picture disc vinyl and cassette on the official store, an exclusive version of the vinyl with alternate artwork available at HMV and an exclusive yellow version of the vinyl on Amazon.
Following Manic Street Preachers longest enforced break from playing live, the group will take the album on a 14 date cross-country tour. Prior to these dates, they play some previously announced festival shows. Support on all headline shows comes from The Anchoress (except Wembley).
Pre-order ‘The Ultra Vivid Lament’ from the official store (https://manicstreetpreachers.lnk.to/store) to get early access to tickets for the tour, with a pre-sale starting on Weds 19th May at 10am. Tickets go on general sale on Friday 21st May at 10am – further details here.
Manic Street Preachers – The Ultra Vivid Lament // Columbia/Sony – 03/09/21
1. Still Snowing In Sapporo
3. The Secret He Had Missed
4. Quest For Ancient Colour
5. Don’t Let The Night Divide Us
7. Complicated Illusions
8. Into The Waves Of Love
9. Blank Diary Entry
10. Happy Bored Alone
UK Tour Dates
26 September, Newcastle, City Hall
28 September, Edinburgh, Usher Hall
29 September, Dundee, Caird Hall
1 October, Stoke On-Trent, Victoria Hall
2 October, Manchester, Apollo
4 October, York, Barbican
5 October, Glasgow, Barrowlands
7 October, Leeds, Academy
8 October, Portsmouth, Guildhall
10 October, Bournemouth, Academy
11 October, Cambridge, Corn Exchange
13 October, Bath, Forum
14 October, Brighton, Dome
3 December, London, Wembley Arena
16 July, Cardiff, Arena (NHS workers show)
17 July, Cardiff, Arena (NHS public show)
30 July, Pikehall, Y Not Festival
7 August, Linlithgow, Party At The Palace
29 August, Alcester, Camper Calling Music Festival
10 September, Halifax, Live at Piece Hall
18 September, Jersey, Electric Park Festival
Photo credit / Alex Lake