Thursday, 12 January 2012

CD Column in The Daily Yomiuri on 5th May 2007

By Stephen Taylor / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer

Send Away The Tigers

Sony Music Japan, 2,520 yen

Anyone who has followed the Manic Street Preachers over the years won't be disappointed with Send Away The Tigers, a strong set of tunes that may not set new standards in music but promises much for anyone thinking of going to the Summer Sonic music festival in Osaka and Tokyo in August, which the band is booked to play.

Send Away The Tigers is the group's first album in more than two years--not that they've been living a rock 'n' roll existence of booze and drugs or festering in a recording studio in Switzerland like some self-indulgent 1970s progressive rock outfit.

Solo albums by vocalist and guitarist James Dean Bradfield--The Great Western--and bassist Nicky Wire--I Killed the Zeitgeist--were both released in 2006 to critical acclaim.

The break seems to have done them good, with the single, "Your Love Alone is Not Enough," featuring Cardigans' singer Nina Persson guesting on vocals, setting a strong pace.

Persson's plaintive vocals complement Bradfield's powerful delivery very well, and her contribution adds a sensitivity that has sometimes been missing in Manics songs in the past. If nothing else, should she ever perform the song live, Wire might not be the only band member wearing a skirt on stage.

The band's anthemic qualities are once more in evidence. Bradfield has never been shy of letting rip on his Gibson Les Paul and his penchant for posturing is there in all its glory on "Autumn Song," complete with a Guns 'n' Roses guitar riff that borders on parody.

By the end of the next track, "I'm Just a Patsy," another Spinal Tap-like departure, you'd be forgiven for thinking the Manics had metamorphosed into the Welsh Motley Crue (or should that be Cruw?).
Strangely, it doesn't appear out of place, merely adding to the variety of an impressive record with edge and vitality that should keep them real for the foreseeable future.

The Boy With No Name

Sony Music Japan, 2,520 yen

Travis are another group with a new release after a long hiatus. In Travis' case, The Boy With No Name is their first album since 12 Memories, almost four years ago.

From the opening bars of "3 Times and You Lose" it's clear that it was worth waiting for this impressive collection of catchy pop from the Glaswegian foursome.

The Boy With No Name finds them in a more positive mood with the trials and tribulations of domestic life to the fore in vocalist and songwriter Fran Healy's writing.

Healy has always had a knack for penning great tunes, and this album is no exception.

The single, "Closer," is a classic example of the group's slower, more reflective side and though it may lack the immediacy of old favorites, such as "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?" or "Sing," if you liked those numbers, you won't be disappointed.

And the good news is that if you buy the Japanese release, one of the album's bonus tracks, "Perfect Heaven Space," finds Travis back to their melodic best.

Like the Manic Street Preachers, Travis will be appearing at Summer Sonic, and new songs like "Battleships," a sensitive observation on the ups and downs of relationships, should sit nicely alongside older crowd pleasers.

In "My Eyes," Healy sings the refrain, "Welcome in, welcome in," to which one might say to Travis, "Welcome back."

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