"We wanted to leave our fans with a statement that wasn't shit"
- Nicky Wire, speaking during the recording of "Know Your Enemy"
"Know Your Enemy" is the sixth album from Manic Street Preachers. After the maudlin, introspective This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours, KYE represents an attempt by the Manics to return to their firebrand punk roots. The album was recorded in two months in a Villa in Spain, with production by Mike Eringa and David Holmes. To keep the punk feeling in the songs, the band set themselves a limit of five takes per song.
They've already demonstrated this intent by debuting the songs at the Karl Marx stadium in Havana, to an audience of 5,000 that included Fidel Castro.
After hearing the album: The sound isn't actually punk as much as post-punk : XTC, New Order, Jesus And Mary Chain and, strangely, Donna Summer seem to have influenced this record. Which is apt, because in many ways this is post-Manics. It really sounds unlike anything they've done before. This is possible due to the fact that, apart from a subtle reference in So Why So Sad, Richey is nowhere to be seen in the entire record.
Without a doubt, it's the messiest album the Manics have ever recorded. The previous albums all tended to focus on a single lyrical and musical concept, while KYE lopes from punk to folk to new wave to disco to punk again. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
But the big question over this album was always : would the Manics find that punk sound again, or just sound like old men who were trying too hard? In the end, neither was true. Know Your Enemy is a closer to This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours than Generation Terrorists. But there are hints of the old stuff there in tracks like My Guernica and Found That Soul. And it is nice to hear them experiment with stuff like Miss Europa Disco Dancer and Wattsville Blues.
A great album but deeply flawed. The review in NME captured it beautifully -
"Far from divine, but definitely on the side of the angels."
- Found That Soul
- Ocean Spray
- Intravenous Agnostic
- So Why So Sad
- Let Robeson Sing
- The Year Of Purification
- Wattsville Blues
- Miss Europa Disco Dancer
- Dead Martyrs
- His Last Painting
- My Guernica
- The Convalescent
- Royal Correspondent
- Baby Elian
- Freedom Of Speech Won't Feed My Children
- Bonus Track : We Are All Bourgeois Now