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The Manic Street Preachers previous album had new music set to old words written by their missing and presumed-dead guitarist Richey Edwards. It seemed like a swansong, an apt epitaph to their body of work. Well, it wasn't a swansong, as the Preachers return firing on more cylinders than a N.A.S.A. launch.

The Welsh rockers have always shuffled comfortably between avant-garde and the mainstream without any loss of integrity. So it is little surprise that Postcards opens with the anthemic lead single “(It's Not War) Just the End of Love,” a punching-the-air stadium rocker.

“A Billion Balconies Facing the Sun” refs J.G. Ballard in a tirade against technology. “Auto Intoxication” is an angular concoction of post-punk and prog rock. “Hazelton Avenue” strangely resembles Lenny Kravitz's “It Ain't Over Till it's Over.”

Postcards is cloaked in lavish orchestral arrangements and rich harmonies and chock full of stadium-sized riffs, gospel choirs, and every kitchen sink in Wales — a record akin to a best of E.L.O.

Described by the band as both “one last attempt at mass communication” and “heavy-metal Motown,” guest stars include Bunnyman McCulloch, Gunner McKagan, and Velvet Cale. Tim Roth is the stark, black-and-white album-cover star.

The highlight of the collection is “Golden Platitudes,” a lament of the working-class sell-out New Labour government in the U.K. With a dour piano intro, it climaxes with James Dean Bradfield crooning "Why colonize the moon, when every different kind of desperation exists?"

  • Album: Postcards from a Young Man (2010)
  • Artist: Manic Street Preachers
  • Label: Columbia
  • Songs: (1) (It's Not War) Just the End of Love (2) Postcards from a Young Man (3) Some Kind of Nothingness (4) The Descent (5) Hazleton Avenue (6) Auto-Intoxication (7) Golden Platitudes (8) I Think I've Found It (9) A Billion Balconies Facing the Sun (10) All We Make Is Entertainment (11) The Future Has Been Here 4 Ever (12) Don't Be Evil
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