The Manics' eighth LP is 38 minutes of riproaring, supremely confident rock music. It houses frantic nu metal riffs (the title track), Stooges-like sexual voracity (‘Underdogs’, in which James Dean Bradfield declares that “People like you need to f**k people like me",) and the unshakeable chorus of current single ‘Your Love Alone Is Not Enough’, which nearly knocked pelvis-flaunting duo Beyonce 'n' Shakira off the number one spot last week. Best of all is 'Rendition', which ties marching band-style drums and ferocious guitars to a chorus that threatens to collapse under the momentum of its own giddiness. The stadium rock bombast of 'Winterlovers' - all crashing power chords, axe-wielding bluster and anthemic "Na na na" choruses - is equally spectacular.
The Manic Street Preachers of 2007 are both political – ‘Imperial Bodybags’ rallies against the war in Afghanistan and ‘The Second Great Depression’ chronicles end-of-the-Blair-years political disillusionment – and playful. Yes, you did just read "playful" and "Manic Street Preachers" in the same sentence. ‘Autumnsong’ begins with a scrawling guitar solo straight off of Appetite for Destruction, chucks in a Queen-like acapella vocal arrangement and plants its tongue firmly in its cheek to ask: "What have you done to your hair?" Even the revolution-touting ‘Rendition’ comes with a side order of archness in the form of Bradfield's ‘Oh god I feel like a liberal’ aside. Only a lumpen, humourless cover of ‘Working Class Hero’ adds fuel to the Manics’ rather unfair reputation as purveyors of dour, class-conscious rock anthems.
So there you have it, Send Away The Tigers finds the Manics teaming with enough energy to give the National Grid a break for, ooh, at least 30 seconds or so. It makes as many concessions to modernity and hipness as an episode of Songs of Praise, but, honest to God, who cares? The Manics have got their balls back and they sound like they’ve loving it.