The Student Playlist

Showcasing the Best New Music, Curating the Classics

“Under Neon Loneliness” – A Beginner’s Guide to Manic Street Preachers

When the Manic Street Preachers began their career on the cusp of the 1990s, they conceived of themselves as a reaction, a contemptible sneer against what they saw as an insular, pretentious music industry that had forgotten how to connect with its public. In an era of static, navel-gazing indie and hedonistic, deliberately self-unconscious Madchester rave music, the Manics were gloriously, defiantly out of step with the prevailing trends.

Consisting of two lyricists and public mouthpieces in Nicky Wire (bass) and Richey Edwards (“guitar”, though he couldn’t actually play), and accompanied by lead singer James Dean Bradfield and drummer Sean Moore to compose the music, the Manics were confrontational, glamorous and seethingly intelligent. Their first ever charting single ‘Motown Junk’ was pure throwback, like nothing else of its time: excoriating, white hot punk energy with lyrics about working class consciousness and shooting John Lennon. At the time, such a thing hadn’t been heard for 15 years. Many refused to take them seriously or even warm to them, despite the likes of ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ beginning to thaw the ice in 1992.

That is, until 1994, when the Manics released The Holy Bible. It was the sort of album that changes perceptions. Written mainly by Richey Edwards, it deals with a bewildering range of dark subject matters both universal to humanity and personal to Edwards himself, and was a harrowing, impressive and utterly breathtaking experience. But more on that later…

Edwards subsequently disappeared on 1st February 1995, leaving the Manics as a three-piece. His politicised and intellectual songwriting, combined with his irresistible knack for propaganda and soundbites, ensured him a cult status. Just when you might have expected them to fall apart, the Manics embarked on the most tremendous successes of their career: number one albums and singles, selling out stadiums around the world, triggered by their stirring 1996 comeback Everything Must Go and its lead single ‘A Design For Life’. Their fame dipped somewhat during the early ‘00s, but they’ve since revitalised and reinvented themselves to stay as relevant and defiantly different at the start of the 2020s as they were when the 1990s dawned.

To celebrate the commercial and critical triumph of 2018’s Resistance Is Futile that maintained their recent very good form, and the 30th anniversaries of their very first singles, we present to newcomers a bird’s eye view of their discography.

You can also check out our Manic Street Preachers introduction playlist by scrolling below!

Influenced: Mansun, Placebo, Feeder, Idlewild, Muse, Coldplay, British Sea Power, Kaiser Chiefs, Future Of The Left, Blossoms, The Anchoress

Influenced by: The Rolling Stones, New York Dolls, The Clash, PiL, The Smiths, Guns N’ Roses, Public Enemy

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