Great Manics Album
Ruben Kincaid | Chicago, IL | 05/30/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am a longtime Manics fan - like a lot of fans the Holy Bible (THB) is my favorite. (Okay, here's my big chance to be a pretentious music critic...) Journal for Plague Lovers (JFPL) is as close as the Manics have come to the Holy Bible but it is still very different - Richey's lyrics are fragmented/unfinished (think of his songs on Everything Must Go) and the music is less agressive (but not too much!). Fans of THB don't fret - these are both dark rock albums - THB seemed to be more about the outside world (though that was often a foil for Richey) and bombastic, while JFPL is clearly much more introverted, and the songs are more melodic/beautiful. JFPL has some catchy songs, and even if the lyrics are abstract, their elusiveness harkens back to the Richey-era Manics and they sound like they make sense when sung by James. The last track "William's Last Words" is sung by Nicky - but he does a decent job, and it really is one of the most touching, sad songs I've ever heard. A great Manics album - non-fans might not fully appreciate the history behind it, so it may only be a 3.5-4 star album for them. The songs are short, polished, cohesive, and I can't stop listening them.
This version is worth it for fans because the sweet journal-like book with artwork by Richey. It is a hardcover book a little longer than a normal CD case, and contains about 30 pages - typed lyrics that don't always match the songs, and about a dozen drawings by Richey. The book is a little morbid as you might expect - like going into a dead person's home.
The demos on the 2nd CD though are a let down, and really aren't that much different than the LP tracks, other than having Nicky half-heartedly sing the title track and "Marlon JD". I wish they had James sing "Williams Last Words" on the demos. While the demos for the Holy Bible were cool to hear because the album is a classic, these don't do much for me a week after the album is released - I'd rather just listen to the album."