The Ultra Vivid Lament

Manic Street Preachers - The Ultra Vivid Lament
Critic Score
Based on 18 reviews
2021 Ratings: #324 / 527
User Score
Based on 41 ratings
Liked by 1 person
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Louder Than War

We began by talking about this band’s eternal need for relevance. Here, in 2021, thanks to the brilliance of The Ultra Vivid Lament, Manic Street Preachers remain as relevant as ever.

The Telegraph
In guitarist-singer James Dean Bradfield and drummer and multi-instrumentalist Sean Moore, they boast two incredibly gifted musicians whose dense arrangements glitter with intricate interplay.
Record Collector
Even if the Manics will never candy-coat their struggles, they illuminate them with unflinching acuity here. If to the abyss we must go, who better to pick as co-travellers than the Manics at full thrust?
Written chiefly on piano, it's essentially a particularly dark MSP bravely attempting to go a bit Abba, failing miserably, but in the process creating a skewed but alluring new pop persona.
It's clear we're in for an introspective ride, though the more major-key, upbeat nature of many of the record's arrangements belie these melancholy undertones.

On The Ultra Vivid Lament they smash together a melange of artful 1970s and 1980s pop influences ... This isn’t the most inspired choice the Manics’ have ever made but, again, it fits in with the overarching tone of uncertainty.

While subtle, this album captures the evolution of a band in their element once more.
Its beauty lies not so much in nostalgia but in its contrast with the present day, where that abandon has been replaced by anxiety, overthinking and alienation, which is captured in some of the band’s prettiest songs yet.
The Irish Times

The Ultra Vivid Lament is a serious grower for anyone enamoured by the Manics. It’s their best album since Futurology in 2014 and another fine addition to a fascinating mature phase.

The Observer

For the first time, they have written songs on piano instead of guitar, and the result is an artfully realised exercise in melancholic, grown-up pop with textures that owe much to the Swedes’ [Abba] later work. It’s also a welcome return to form, after 2018’s water-treading Resistance Is Futile.

Classic Rock

Anthemic legends the Manic Street Preachers turn super-ambient rock troupers on The Ultra Vivid Lament.

The Line of Best Fit

Manic Street Preachers have always been a band striving for epic. The Ultra Vivid Lament is no different. An open, far-reaching valley nestled in a grassy space surrounded by low peaks.

‘The Ultra Vivid Lament’ is a requiem, but one that looks for sonic positivity in the thematic darkness.
God Is in the TV

Though whether you’re a fan of the direction they’ve taken or not, nobody can deny that it was a bold and impressive move for a band of such longevity to explore a new sound and we’re interested to see what they’ll do for album fifteen.

The Independent

It’s an album that sounds very little like their last, and in that sense – despite its myriad reference points – The Ultra Vivid Lament is a Manic Street Preachers record, through and through.


Despite its occasional uplifting moments, the overall feeling you get from Ultra Vivid Lament is indeed a lament for something better, something briefly promised by Resistance Is Futile despite its title sounding more Borg-like than Star Trek character Seven Of Nine.


A new Manics album, on the face of it, isn’t necessarily very exciting. For a band that have been going for so long and seemingly dedicated themselves to being a nostalgia act with a fair few anniversary tours, new album The Ultra Vivid Lament is a pleasant surprise.

Evening Standard
Long term fans may wish that these songs had sharper teeth. Bradfield’s big voice suits an electric guitar after all. But considered as a shock Eurovision entry, this is a fun diversion.
Manic Street Preachers - The Ultra Vivid Lament

Genre: Pop Rock
Country: UK

Final Verdict: 59% (Pleasant Album)
Yearly Ranking: 402th / 715

Highlight: The Secret He Had Missed (feat. Julia Cumming)

Made me think of:
Super Furry Animals
So much of this record has an ABBA vibe! I kind of dig it, as much one can dig a late era Manics album!
Their best album in a few years is a very Manics album.
The word revolution, check.
Female duet, check.
Big fat chorus, check.

But then there are softer moments too where you can tell that the band are aging and slowing and looking back a little more. This has a lot in common with This is My Truth and is well worth a listen.

Essential track - The Secret He Had Missed.
The occasional redeeming pop melody here and there - the lyrics, however, are *dire*.


Still Snowing in Sapporo ~ ★★☆☆☆
Orwellian ~ ★★★☆☆
The Secret He Had Missed [ft. Julia Cumming] ~ ★★★☆☆
Quest For Ancient Colour ~ ★★☆☆☆
Don't Let the Night Divide Us ~ ★★☆☆☆
Diapause ~ ★★☆☆☆
Complicated Illusions ~ ★★☆☆☆
Into the Waves of Love ~ ★★☆☆☆
Blank Diary Entry [ft. Mark Lanegan] ~ ★★☆☆☆
Happy Bored Alone ... read more
Typical solid, dependable, late-career Manics, their always odd mix of political bite and classic pop sensibilities edging it beyond drivetime radio.
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Added on: May 13, 2021