Manic fandom

SIMON SWEETMAN
Last updated 12:49 30/07/2014

I found out that Manic Street Preachers fans are a bit of a nutty bunch when I reviewed the band's new album, Futurology. Tin-eared lot too, obviously. I mean this album just sounds utterly absurd in places - check out Sex, Power, Love and Money - there's just no way a song like that, if you can call it a song, could ever be on an album that people are considering among the year's best.

But Futurology isn't among the year's best - it's a big, dumb album by a band that's never really had anything to say. But then I've just never understood the appeal of the Manic Street Preachers. A couple of singles that hit the mark during the end of Britpop's reign, but nothing to rave about - unless you're a fan of course. Then they're the very best thing in the land. And hey, fair enough. Fandom does strange things to people. the Futurology of music?

I thought Tool fans were a special bunch. I'm sure they still are. Same with Radiohead fans - they made it hard to like Radiohead for a while. But I wonder if Manics fanatics are the kookiest lot. And I wonder this because at least with other bands you can almost see where the nutter-fans are coming from, you can get why they're charged.

Tool sounds like the cleverest music in the world to the urban cavemen entranced by it. But there are a hundred bands better than the Manic Street Preachers. And that was only at the last count. In the time since you've read that sentence several new bands have had at least one song better than anything Manic Street Preachers have ever provided.

Presumably a big part of the appeal - of the story - is in the fact that Richey disappeared. Or rather, that the band carried on without him; I'm not trying to mock this (Edwards was officially presumed dead in 2008 after disappearing in 1995) just trying to understand the appeal of a band that makes thoroughly wet music.

There's no virtuosity on display, the songwriting is all either borrowed or absent and it's not like this band has ever actually gone away either. So no big comebacks as such. They've in fact all but flooded the market, firing out far too many plodders and poking a stick in the general direction of song-structure, forcing out an album every year or two.If you tolerate them...

Is it a head held high thing for fans? This band of mopey men had the fortitude to carry on, to face up and move past something so earth shattering as losing a band member and friend. It certainly never helped their music. The best album this band ever made was The Holy Bible.

Manics fans. A special bunch. Are they the most maniacal? Are they the most misguided? What band has the nuttiest fans around? And what did you think of Futurology? Have you heard it? Album of the year? Or another drinks-coaster from a paint-by-numbers pop group?

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