Home Read Classic Album Review: Manic Street Preachers | Know Your Enemy

Classic Album Review: Manic Street Preachers | Know Your Enemy

The Welsh post-punks shoot from the lip on their misguinded sixth album.


This came out in 2001 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


These Welsh post-punks have never been afraid to lead with their mouths. Once they said all bands should be forced to break up after one album — then decided that didn’t apply to them. Then they made some unfortunate comments about Michael Stipe and AIDS. The ambitious Know Your Enemy, their sixth CD (and third since singer Richard James Edwards vanished in 1995) finds the Preachers once again shooting from the lip.

The ‘Enemy’ in question seems to be the U.S., judging by the anti-Yank, pro-Castro sentiments voiced in several tracks. But the way the Manics choose to know their foe — by name-dropping everyone from Paul Robeson to Marilyn Manson while playing ersatz disco, jangly Byrds-rock and Beach Boys surf-pop — mostly makes you wonder what they’re on about. And frankly, the less said about Baby Elian, an ode to the Cuban refugee-cum-political football, the better. Know Your Enemy has its moments — notably the sizzling, guitar-driven Britrockers Found That Soul, Convalescent and Dead Martyrs. But until they learn to think before talking, Manic Street Preachers remain their own worst enemy.