Success still lives on Manic Street

Manic Street Preachers
“Send Away The Tigers”
4 out of 5 stars

This was almost the second Manic Street Preachers album to debut at No. 1 in the United Kingdom, but the Arctic Monkeys topped it by a mere 690 copies to rack up its third No. 2 debut. Regardless, the Manics are one of the bigget acts in the United Kingdom and in all of Europe, though the band has never had much of an impact in the states. This album, the band’s eighth, really represents a return to form for the trio from Blackpool. After a two-year hiatus that could not have come at a better time, it finds the band doing what it does best: crafting bombastic and majestically aggressive pop songs.
This album features perhaps the most guitar work and is the most muscular set of songs since 1996. In its earlier days, it was one of the most controversial bands in existence, and while they’ve toned it down over the years, its lyrics still speak volumes. Of course the focal point once again is the diminutive guitarist and lead vocalist James Dean Bradfield, whose vocal work is arguably the most powerful and soaring in rock music this side of Queen’s Freddie Mercury. In the end, I’m not sure if you can call this a true comeback album, but either way, it’s pop-rock at its most thunderously epic.

Key Tracks: “Send Away the Tigers,” “Indian Summer,” “Your Love Alone Is Not Enough”

Tegan and Sara
“The Con”
3 out of 5 stars

If there was ever an album that just grew on me to the point of almost absolute obsession, it was Tegan and Sara’s last album, 2004’s “So Jealous.” This album has a very different feel than the band’s last one as a whole. It’s a darker album, both in song structure and in the lyrical composition. Whatever the reason is for that, I’m not certain, nor am I going to speculate. But it’s certainly heavier overall, with a little bit more of an experimental feel in some places. I’m not certain it’s the best move for the Canadian twins to pull, at least to start an album. Not that I’m saying that all their records have to sound the same, but most people are looking for something familiar on each album.
It works on a few occasions, most notably on the record’s title track. In contrast, “Are You Ten Years Ago” sounds more like something that you would find on an album by Kele Okereke and the rest of Bloc Party. In the second half of the album the overall consistency in quality really picks up and some of the album’s best songs are here. But its style of somewhat quirky and jagged pop is too infectious to allow for a poor album. As it is, I still like their last album better.

Key Tracks: “Back In Your Head,” “Burn Your Life Down”