That’s the thing about love; its not only blind, its sometimes deaf and dumb as well. The Manic Street Preachers have long publicly declared Gold Against The Soul – originally released in 1993 – as their least favourite album, the scorn a combination of perceived excesses, both for the band as personnel and it’s contents as bloated tokens of a rock n’ roll dream they felt guilt for living.
Love rarely does what it’s supposed to however and as Nicky Wire has recently admitted the band’s fans have long generally held their second album in much higher regard. Whilst musically they were soon to pivot on the abrasive neo-classic The Holy Bible, as a prelude Richey Edwards was already exploring more inward looking lyrical themes of personal desolation and despair (I retreat into self pity/It’s so easy/When they patronise my misery).
The reverse applied to the music however. Wire has summed up James Dean Bradfield’s approach at the time as being obsessed with melody, meaning that on songs like Roses In The Hospital, Life Becoming A Landslide and From Despair To Where they’d become accessible, Top of The Pops avatars bringing educated torment into our living rooms.
This reissue is a suitably tasteful package, the material almost lost in the visual gorging of a 120 page book of unpublished photos, whilst a host of demos, b-sides and remixes adds context if not much else that will shift perceptions. Gold Against The Soul remains a snapshot of a group on the cusp of an unwanted transition, but is no excercise in statelessness .
You can read the full review here.