The Manics, despite having political views that are the complete opposite of my own, are one of those bands to whom my fandom goes beyond mere carnal delight and extends to something akin to genuine romance. It’s more than just objectively assessing their work and playing what I like. It’s more like a sports team that you are cheering on and want desperately to win.
On Rewind the Film, alas, they lose the match. While single Show Me the Wonder is brilliant, yet another classic Manics anthem, and the title track a melancholy, brooding masterpiece, it would have been lovely had these gems been placed in a collection of songs equally worthy of affection. Unfortunately the rest of the album is horrible.
Fights between lovers are often the more vitriolic for their passion, and so it is with Rewind the Film. I hate this album. I hate the production. I hate that it sounds like they are trying to be Mumford and Sons. I hate that they think they sound so freaking “Welsh”. I hate crappy folk music, and this is crappy, inauthentic, bad folk music. Someone should take that trumpet and bash James Dean Bradfield over the head with it until he can rediscover where he misplaced his electric guitar. This thing is a stinker.
Singles aside, it’s only saving grace is in the lyric of Thirty Year War, where Nicky Wire bemoans three glorious decades of Thatcherism. It’s such a sad, self-pitying song, wailing about how “the old boy network won”, that, were it not so turgid and boring, you’d want to play it over and over again just to gloat and taste the sweetness of his tears. Maybe it’s recorded badly deliberately just so as to avoid such a fate.
They get points for trying, and not producing yet another album of populist guitar anthems, even though that is what they are good at. The great thing about the Manics is that they often take risks, and those risks often pay off. But, like Lifeblood before it, this album is a failure. It’s not completely impossible that it could grow on me. I may give it a couple more spins. I recall feeling the same about This Is My Truth, which I now regard as one of their best works. But somehow, this time, I doubt it is going to bear up.
Here’s what can be salvaged: This is a great song!