The 10 best Manic Street Preachers songs, as chosen by Samoans
Welsh indie-proggers Samoans choose the 10 best moments from fellow countrymen Manic Street Preachers
If you’ve heard Welsh indie-progger Samoans’ new album Laika – which the band themselves have dubbed the result of wanting to sound like “Nine Inch Nails meets Oceansize” – it should come as little surprise that when tasked with picking the finest moments from the Manic Street Preachers' back catalogue, the path they took largely meanders through the indie rock pioneers' darker, more angular moments.
The Manics are another band whose influence looms large over the new album, as band-leader Dan explained to TeamRock when we premiered Laika's first single earlier this year. "I remember at the time of writing Patience, I was revisiting Grace by Jeff Buckley and Everything Must Go by the Manics," he explained. "I usually have phases where I’ll listen to one particular band or artist religiously, and that then seeps into whatever I end up jamming at home when writing."
Check out Dan's choices, along with a stream of new single Future Ghost, below.
Archives Of Pain (The Holy Bible, 1994)
"This is my top Manics song. I remember getting The Holy Bible for a birthday present off my sister when I was a kid and immediately being struck by how visceral it was. It really stood out from everything I’d been listening to up until that point. The lyrics to Archives Of Pain are pretty provocative, especially in the chorus where Richey walks an ambiguous line of giving well-known murderers ‘the respect they deserve’. I think this is something I clung to as an impressionable youth wanting to write my own songs. Richey’s lyrics really made you think. The song also has an amazingly menacing bass riff that runs throughout and THE best guitar solo on any Manics song ever, in my opinion."
Sleepflower (Gold Against The Soul, 1993)
"This is the opening track to The Holy Bible’s predecessor, Gold Against The Soul, which I know James has admitted is where they lost a bit of direction, but I love Sleepflower. For me, it’s the album’s saving grace. I love how high the bass is in the mix on this as it really gives strength to the main riff. Again, this song has an amazing solo and break down section with ethereal vocals."
Everything Must Go (Everything Must Go, 1996)
"This song is a pretty emotional affair and shows how the band had been through a lot after Richey’s disappearance. They’re wearing their hearts on their sleeves asking the fans for forgiveness for carrying on and I think this is one of the strongest songs by the band. It’s got that Phil Spektor vibe all over it. This song definitely shows a depth to the band that they possibly couldn’t achieve before. As much as it pains me to say, if Richey had never disappeared then we probably would never have heard this song."
Kevin Carter (Everything Must Go, 1996)
"This was the song that made me want to play guitar. I’d grown up with my dad’s record collection but never thought I’d ever get round to playing an instrument after a teacher in school told me I was tone deaf when applying for violin lessons. When I heard this song for the first time, and how James was playing in a very staccato way in the verses, I knew I wanted to play guitar and play it just like that. The song is about a photographer who killed himself because of what he had experienced as war photographer. Who would’ve thought that subject matter like that would be a hit single?"
S.Y.M.M. (This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, 1998)
"I can’t express how much I love this song and the album it’s from. This is My Truth... gets pretty dark after they get the singles out of the way. S.Y.M.M. stands for South Yorkshire Mass Murderer. The lyrics refer to the Hillsborough football tragedy, and in some way the band have been vindicated for their directness at blaming the police for the multiple deaths. The guitar on this song is so good. James gives this song a lot of space with the underlying lead and the reverse drums into the chorus give the song a real haunting feel that encapsulates Nicky’s lyric ‘how can you sleep at night?’ It’s a must for me."
The Intense Humming Of Evil (The Holy Bible, 1994)
"The intro to this song is really hypnotic with the industrial sounds and squealing feedback. The music is pretty harrowing throughout (what would you expect in a song about concentration camps?) but Sean’s drums are insanely good. That beat has to be one of my favourites of all time, it really draws you deeper in. The guitar picking in the verse is so menacing too. Seeing this song live is an assault on your senses."
Close My Eyes (The Masses Against The Classes, 2000)
"This is James at his vocal best. I love the lines ‘Back to the stuff that made us all, back to reality, back to fuck all’. It’s sung with real passion. The guitar riff throughout the song is really catchy. When I first heard it I couldn’t believe they had relegated it to a b-side."
Judge Yr’self (Lipstick Traces [A Secret History of Manic Street Preachers], 2003)
"This track could’ve easily fitted on The Holy Bible. There’s a lot of effects going on and it sounded like a lot of fun to record. There’s a phaser on the bass riff and flange on the lead guitar. It’s proper '90s, but doesn’t sound dated at all. That chorus is of ‘Heal yr’self, Hurt yr’self, Judge yr’self’ is epic and visceral. James really knows how to get the emotion of Richey and Nicky’s lyrics across."
Walk Me To The Bridge (Futurology, 2014)
"I love how, after doing so many albums, the Manics came out of nowhere with this record. The whole Futurology album has that hopeful but retrospective feeling to it. It’s got big krautrock-esque choruses and a murmuring bass line in the verses and lyrics that clearly idolise Richey: ‘I re-imagine the steps you took, still blinded by your intellect’. If this is a tribute to Richey and remembering how he departed, then I think it’s the best anyone could have done."
My Little Empire (This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, 1998)
"I love this song for numerous reasons. The guitar riff is top drawer; sombre but melodic. Nicky’s backing vocals make this song, though, and give the words more honesty coming from their author. This song sits in a place on the album that I adore. So much depth and mood in this and the surrounding songs. I wish they’d play this live more."
Laika will be released on 29th September via Apres Vous Records. Check out the new single Future Ghost below: