Sunday, May 17, 2009

Review: Journal for Plague Lovers

„You know so little about me... what if I turn into a werewolf or something?“
– a C. Bale quote from the film „The Machinist“, the first thing you hear when you pop in „Journal for Plague Lovers“.

This beast is warm off the assembly line, officially released yesterday. And ZA/UM is reviewing it for you today. Right off the bat: if you don’t like rawk (crank this mofo up and jump on your bed style rock music totally devoid of indie sensibilities), piss right off.Still here? Good. It’s 1995 and these Welsh left-wing slouganeers have just lost their main lyricist, Richey Edwards. Yes, it’s the kind of band that has „a lyricist“ - someone who writes political lyrics and pretends to play rhythm guitar live. This young man is called Richey James Edwards and he disappears without a trace after the band has released their masterpiece - „The Holy Bible“ - widely considered too articulate, intelligent, and stylish for most people to actually listen to it. Just have a glance at this, the most harrowing of all Wikipedia entries.

14 years later, The Manics (as the band’s abbreviated) are still going strong, having recaptured the attention of the mainstream music press with a pathetic cop-out album of soft-rock nonsense, the 2007 LP „Send Away the Tigers“. After this, the boys are in serious need of some vindication. They know it and Richey Edwards knows it. In case you were wondering where he went, he’s a citizen of Antártica, the Chilean Antarctic Territory. Along with Ian Curtis and Kurt Cobain.
So in 2009 the Manics crack open a notebook of lyrics left to them by this disappeared lyricist and write an album-full of song to his obscure scribbles. It’s called „Journal for Plague Lovers“ and it’s a kind of conceptual musical journal, comprised of furious, 2-minute excerpts. It’s produced by Steve Albini - a rock-producer widely considered too demo-esque, and RAW for people to actually listen to his albums (with possibly the exception of Nirvana’s „In Utero“). And the results of this pairing are solid. In fact, "Jorunal" is incomparable to „Send Away the Tigers“ and comparable to, but not as good as „The Holy Bible“ - a comparison the band has asked for, dubbing it „The Holy Bible part II“
Most of all, this is music for those who've had enough of the kind of "sonic experimentation" that comes down to songs starting off with one and a half minute of Brian Eno, falling asleep on his synthesizer (U2´s „No Line on the Horizon“ and Coldplay’s „Viva la Vida“). All 14 tracks boast sharp, angular guitar riffs and massive, basement-sounding drums. This is immediate and admirably produced music. In fact it's so awkwardly raw it takes a while for these songs to grow on you. But when they do, a vital-sounding collage of rockers emerges. The bass crunch on opener „Peeled Apples“ is as good as one gets, while album highlight „Marlon J.D.“ throws in some perfectly dated synth-drums and a guitar riff from The Cure circa 1983, saying „I will not beg because / this is how I am“. This collage is punctured by some delicate acoustic numbers that somehow convey the same sense of rawness. „Facing page: top left“ (are you getting the journal vibe?) is perhaps the best of these, all acoustic guitar and harp picking.

As is customary to rock records, there’s some pointless filler („Pretension/Repulsion“ tries REM’s „Murmur“ on and fails) and some very good filler („Doors Slowly Closing“ is another track that reminisces 80’s The Cure, with some lyrical highlights, courtesy of Mr. Richey Edwards: „listen to the selfish ones / they are the voice of accomplishment.“ ). All and all this is not the post punk claustrophobia of „The Holy Bible“, it’s a a healthy sonic development from that.

Even if you don’t appreciate the band itself and their music, from a cultural perspective I highly suggest you take a listen to „Journal“ as it perfectly demonstrates how rock music should be produced and how it has not been produced for the last decade. 7.5/10

PS - I put that Jenny Saville painting on the cover up there as large as I could, so you could get a load of how utterly, utterly sublime it is.


  1. Suht äge Robi jah aga kuule, ma just vaatasin väärtpaberi-andmebaasist ja ma ei saa aru, miks sa Robi, Benito Mussolinile laenu oled andnud?

  2. Mingi mõttetu möga ja plinistamine, kedagi ei koti. Tegelikult on see kõik siin ainult selleks, et sa näeksid seda kaanepilti.
    See peaks muide suuremalt olema.

    Ebanormaalselt kõva on.

  3. Kui leiad selle Jenny Saville'i netikülje, mida me vaatasime, siis postita siia link. Ma otsisin aga ei leidnud millegipärast.

    PS On jah kõva, miks sa niimoodi teha ei oska? I mean, c'mon, If a WOMAN can...

  4. Ning muuseas, see kaas sai Briti supermarketites bänni. Tuleb välja, et need mehed nägid siin last, kes on piki lõugu saanud. Go figure! Manicsid nägid omapärast pintslitehnikat. Mis on kummaline, kuna ma ka justkui oleks näinud last, kes on piki lõugu saanud. Any comments?

    Bändi laulja kommenteerib: "You can have lovely shiny buttocks and guns everywhere in the supermarket on covers of magazines and CDs, but you show a piece of art and people just freak out."

    Lovely shiny bottocks...

  5. ma arvan, et me ei leidnudki ta kodulehte üles vaid vaatasime google imageist ja siit

    siin: on ka, osad jaburalt väikesed, osad mõnusalt suurelt. Aastate kaupa jagatud nii et selles mõttes mõnus.

  6. Uudiseid! Kunstnik ise teatas, et tüdruk pole piki lõugu saanud - tal on sünnimärk. Tead seda sügavalt ebaausat üllatust, mis loodusel inimese näo jaoks varus võib olla - poolt nägu kattev punakas sünnimärk? Vot selega on tegemist. Mis teeb pildi vähemalt minu jaoks veel eriti ilusaks. Vastik düsmorfiline õnnetus on esitatud armastavalt, laps on ikkagi väga ilus ju. Supermarket on nüüd muidugi kehvas olukorras kuna on Inglismaal on olemas igasugused MTÜ-d ja sealhulgas ka Birthmark Supprot Group, kellele väga peale ei lähe, et sünnimärgiga tüdruk supermarketi arvates shokeeriv ja rõve on.
    Ja näe - juhtub see, mis mul juba ZA/UMis korduvalt juhtund on. Mingi pilt ripub palju silma ees ja muutub järjest kenamaks ja kenamaks.

  7. Anna teada kui sellest mingisugune skandaal peaks tulema, see oleks naljakas.
    Also! See geocities (wtf, ikka veel?) leht, seal on üleval ka ta väga varajased tööd 90ndate algusest ja need on kohutavalt "Lucien Freud ja groteskne inimfiguur maalikunsti esteetilises kontekstis ehk igav pask"
    Kusjuures isiklikust vaatepunktist julgen veel öelda, et ega püha piibli kaanepilt ka eriti hea ole, see hilisem labidaga plätserdavam maalimine on ikka tublisti kõvem.
    Naljakas on ka see, et Saville on YBA üks esitüüpidest aga maalib Paremini kui YBA kontseptualismivihkajad ja "maalikunsti tagasitoojad" Stuckistid (what a fucking retarded name)

  8. Jah, ma annan viivitamatult teada kui ma midagi teada saan, palun andke te ka teada kui te midagi teada saate! Kui sest midagi ei tule - arusaadav - andke teada. Jälgin registrit pingsalt, postitada võib siiasamma. Väärtpaberiregister on üleeilne päev, vaatan lemmiklooma omast. Üks küsimus siiski tekkis, kui X annab teada kui mingisugune skandaal peaks tekkima, mida Y siis jälgib? Andke teada, sest neid skandaale käib ikka igasuguseid. Ja btw selle skandaali pärast ära muretse, ma annan ise teada kui midagi peaks tulema (kui ei tule, tekitan ise skandaali, sest see oleks naljakas, ja annan teada). Hoiame kontakti. Seniks muusikat..