Customer Reviews: Postcards From a Young Man
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4.6 out of 5 stars14
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on January 22, 2011
This record is great and kind of ironic...according to Nicky Wire, PFAYM is intended to be their last record aiming for commication with the masses...but it's not available domestically in the US, only their 2nd that is import only...the other is their misfired 2005 New Wave/Synthpop record "Lifeblood", and the 2 solo works...but their prior album, 2009's "Journal For Plague Lovers" was released and promoted here, and it was willfully difficult and uncommercial, yet great, a stylistic followup to 1994's "The Holy Bible" with Richie-penned lyrics...ironically, THB was released here as a 10th anniversary deluxe edition only, but never on it's initial release.

Anyhoo, "Postcards" is an intentionally big, melodic, orchestral even, POP/powerpop record, with soaring choruses, strings, choirs, etc, but done Manics-style, with policial-leaning lyrics that are personal and emotional, with resources that are obscure to most and referenced in unique all their works, T.S. Eliot is quoted in the book(let), among many. The single "(It's Not War) Just The End Of Love" is a typically great Manics-styled pop tune, along the lines of "A Design For Life" or "Your Love Alone Is Not Enough", but very 2010, not retro. All 12 tunes are killer. Yes, there are B-sides on singles and 2 Japanese-only bonus tracks, but this deluxe box is not worth it to me...the demos are on, er, CASSETTE???!!??? And the DVD is good for maybe 1 watching...question is, how long is it?? And the spiral scrapbook is cool, as are the postcards, but you get the book condensed in the 2CD deluxe version, with the demos on a second CD, not that version, in a gold-coloured, hard-covered book package (also limited edition and weirdly not available on Amazon), is better for me, and it's 80 bucks cheaper...I was a tad worried about the CDs though, as the pockets in the covers were a TAD too tight, but they are OK.

I'm also weirded out that "Postcards" is not available in the States domestically because this record is tailor-made for US radio and these songs would go over so well live and win over some American fans...but me, I've been a Manics freak since 1991 and "Genration Terrorists"...not easy being an American Manics fan, as this country never gave this Welsh trio any love over the years...

A shame totally.
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on September 22, 2010
Wow, what an album. I have been a Manics fan for a long, long time and this is among their finest work to date. I would love for this album to get some attention in the states because it could be huge here if people would just hear it. Manics fans need to be calling/writing radio stations demanding to hear them on American radio. They said their goal was to reach mass audiences with this album and if this album can't do it, then I don't know what can.
Amazing, I wish I could give it more than 5 stars. A great album to introduce people to the Manics with, very accessible without compromising their music or style.
LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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on April 5, 2011
Welsh band who have become legendary in England (and remain largely unknown here)
release their 10th album since 1992. This is big, epic, high-gloss, orchestrated U.K. stadium rock
born of the peculiar strictures of British societal culture. The songs have a near-commercial
appeal that belies their lyrical intent, while the overblown choruses slowly reel you in with their
effusive excess. Includes guest spots from Ian McCullough (Echo & the Bunnymen) and Duff
McKagan (Guns N' Roses). Sometimes reminiscent of The Dears, Muse, Arcade Fire, The Kinks.
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on September 12, 2013
okay, so i think MSP's music is very polarizing to begin with...if you're into the more melodic stuff they do like TIMTTMY or LIFEBLOOD (like i am) you will dig this album. this album forms a great trinity of accessible, melodic, catchy, yet still intellectual/challenging, music. i really wish every album was more like these three to be honest. i know most fans seem to enjoy their more caustic work but i'll take this return to 2005's pop grandeur any day. well done, manics! ps, please don't hang it up yet...keep churning out these gems!
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on September 14, 2011
Alas, my beloved Manic Street Preachers, fast becoming the most staid, placid band in rock. They never repudiated their beginnings as revolutionary firebrands. Instead, they romanticized their history, made it safe and quaint by putting it into the past tense. They praised themselves for their own resilience in the face of hardship long after all hardship had passed ("Found That Soul," "There By The Grace Of God," "Forever Delayed," "Underdogs"), they commemorated long-dead activists ("Let Robeson Sing," "Emily") and forever circled around the traumatic disappearance of Richey Edwards ("Nobody Loved You," "Cardiff Afterlife," "Your Love Alone Is Not Enough," and all of Journal For Plague Lovers).

Postcards From A Young Man goes one step further: it replaces these vivid memories (which were sometimes inspiring) with a vague and general dissatisfaction. Those "Postcards" aren't the authentic mementoes of youth shown in the liner notes, they're glossy impulse buys on a gift shop counter. "Some Kind Of Loneliness," the best song on the album, uses the line, "still and lonely like an old school photograph." It's a beautiful-sounding song, but man, does anybody anywhere actually feel that way about their school pictures? Since when do the Manics? I remember when they sounded very unhappy to be young. I know, everything looks different in retrospect, but I thought Wire had had enough run-ins with small-town prejudice and insensitivity (remember, he used to have quite the fashion style back in the day) to knock off the rose-coloured glasses.

Nicky can still be quite articulate, underneath the deceptive smoothness of the music. "Golden Platitudes" eulogizes "the liberal left destroyed" and observes, "why colonize the moon when every different kind of desperation exists in every single home?" (Actually, back when people aspired to colonize the moon, there was also less desperation.) But all he can do about it is helplessly moan, "where did the feeling go / where did it all go wrong?" Light, non-descript grief, unhappy but convenient. And you can't even call him out on it, he already titled the song "Golden Platitudes."

But he does that. It's even almost impressive, the way he balances on the edge between vacuous, uh, "platitudes" and potentially meaningful commentary. He writes a song called "All We Make Is Entertainment," with the chorus, "All we make is entertainment / it's so damn easy and inescapable / we're so post-modern, we're so post-everything." Just what we needed, broad social criticism that implicitly contains its own excuse not to go deeper. But wait -- there's also the genuinely perceptive line, "a sad indictment of what we're good at," suggesting a little more than just glib irony, but, sadly, a little less than any interesting conclusion.

The music is back to the same reliable guitars/strings combo as Send Away The Tigers, but less distinctive. The songs focus on catchy, uplifting choruses -- for example, "Some Kind Of Nothingness" gets all of its mileage out of the crooning, sentimental refrain. (The song's even got Ian McCulloch in full late-career Sinatra mode!) I can think of about two songs where the music makes any impression apart from the voices -- the sixties-style guitar line opening "It's Not War, Just The End Of Love" (very Byrds), and the laid-back good-time riff in "All We Make Is Entertainment." That's fine, but what always set the Manics apart was their sheer musical ability, their timeless, unforgettable riffs and rhythms (most recently in "Peeled Apples"). Without that, might as well listen to White Lies or something.

Look, the biggest problem with this album is that there just is not a lot to say about it. If you liked Send Away The Tigers, this isn't bad (at least it's better than Lifeblood!), but even Send Away The Tigers sounded livelier -- ironically, the John Lennon cover made it cut deeper. These days, Nicky just does not have a lot to say. He knows it, too, so his answer is to write numerous songs about how he doesn't know what to say. The latest Wild Swans album is also heavy on nostalgia (and cameos by Bunnymen), but it has solid guitarwork and some actual descriptive detail in the lyrics. My suggestion: next time, just tell a few stories from your childhood or something. It would carry more conviction.
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on March 3, 2011
If the Manics' last release, the impressive Journal For Plague Lovers, was an attempt to return to the anarchic sounds of their classic 1994 The Holy Bible, then Postcards From A Young Man is their attempt to recreate the awesomeness of their 1996 release Everything Must Go. The use of gospel choirs and orchestration is certainly evocative of Everything Must Go, and the songs are suitably catchy. The highlight is Some Kind of Nothingness, where James Dean Bradfield and Nicky Wire's trading of vocals works remarkably well. This is a strong collection of songs, and a worthy follow-up to Plague Lovers.
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on July 27, 2014
I would describe this album as more mainstream with more traditional production values than the previous (Journal...) and subsequent (Rewind...) Manics albums. Regardless, like most Manics albums, it's very coherent, tight, and consistent. The songwriting is solid. The songs are catchy but not cheesy. They are accompanied by well-written string parts and choirs that add significantly to the grandeur and energy of the songs. I find it a very enjoyable album despite the fact that I prefer the production and taste of the previous and subsequent albums over this one. Well done Manics!
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on November 20, 2010
Clearly the approach here, as apparently desired by lead singer James Dean Bradfield, is a final attempt to reach the masses. As an American, I really wish they would. The Manics are spot on with intelligent message, 80's guitar sounds, excellent drums and bass. This has been produced with all the right pop hooks to keep many people listening for quite a while. I was fortunate to catch the last U.S. tour when they were in San Francisco, all I can say is, superb!
What I can't understand is, IF it's true that this release is a final attempt to reach the masses, WTF (why) is it only available as import 2 months past it's release date? There is something seriously wrong with record companies still treating music as if it were only available as LP/cassette, and holding back music from the fans that really want to support good music. If you are down with class act rock and roll, I suggest shelling out for the import, you won't be sorry. Long live Welsh talent!
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on October 9, 2010
It as all....the best solos, more mature from james dean bradfield, beautifull songs(The future has been here 4ever), it has loads of feeling, great arrangements, perfect they can do a tour only playing this songs...there in an amazing form...clearly the best rock band from england...
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on April 9, 2012
10th album by the Manic Street Preachers and for me it's another great one. The title track is barnstorming and then there is the stunning duet with Ian McCulloch, Some Kind Of Nothingness. Don't Be Evil harks back slightly to THB era sound and then there is the disco/pop/rock of It's Not War (Just The End Of Love) which had Michael Sheen and Anna Friel starring in it's video! A joyous review of the past whilst also looking to the future.
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