Manic Street Preachers

Send Away the Tigers

(Columbia; 2007)

By David M. Goldstein | 5 February 2008

Unlike 2004’s supremely forlorn Lifeblood, the Manic Street Preachers’ Send Away the Tigers did indeed officially see a U.S. release, though no one outside of their core fanbase had any reason to be aware of this. Tigers was completely ignored by North American critics, and utterly bereft of any promotional push, outside of a track on a “free” iTunes sampler I had access to after selling my soul to Ticketmaster (Van Halen!). This is unfortunate, as Tigers is arguably the finest Manics effort since Everything Must Go (1996), a collection of legitimate rock songs that, while never reaching the heights of the Richey Edwards-era, excises most of the nagging problems with the last couple of Manics albums (unbridled pretension and over-breadth).

Granted, they still won’t pass up the opportunity to build a song around (and sample) a Lee Harvey Oswald quote (the otherwise rocking “I’m Just a Patsy”), and the “hidden” cover of John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero” at the end of the disc is as inessential as one might imagine (albeit hella better than Green Day’s). But at least the Manics are finally on the attack again, ramping up James Dean Bradfield’s guitar in the name of rock and roll that actually sounds like it might have been fun to make, which is never a given with this band. And though you too will wince at the sound of a 40+ year old man shouting “this one’s for the freaks!” (“Underdog”, natch) the fact that Bradfield bothers to chase this phrase with fiery riffing is far more than any Manics fan had a right to ask at this point.

No more 68+ minute whining devoted to the glory of communism (2001’s absymal Know Your Enemy) or peans to depression with ’80s keyboards (the aforementioned Lifeblood), just a focused collection of well-written rock songs that miraculously clocks in under 40 minutes. Thank you.