As a rule of thumb, in most bands the frontman is the powerhouse, the largest personality, the loudest mouth. But for Wales’ absolute greatest, Manic Street Preachers, that’s simply not the case, with singer and guitarist James Dean Bradfield being the first to admit his charisma weighs in at only a fraction of his lyricist, bassist and lifelong pal Nicky Wires’.
It may be surprising then, that the glitter-daubed, brash, outspoken, beating heart of the Manics has opted to sneak out his second deck of solo material single-handedly, with minimal fanfare through bandcamp, eschewing a standard high profile release schedule for the drip-feed of a new track whenever he gets time to upload one to his website from his home in Newport.
‘Keeper of the Flame’ is the second of these missives from Wire’s forthcoming solo record, ‘Intimism’. Followers of the Welsh contrarians may reasonably expect a solo project from the group’s glam-punkish pacesetter to consist of spiky, three-chord diatribes shot through with revolutionary literary and political references galore. Ever one to buck presumption, ‘Keeper of the Flame’ is very much not that.
In fact, the most jagged sound on the song is Wire’s wonderfully jagged vocals over what could otherwise sound like a charmingly polished yet lo-fi rock tune, complimented by JDB’s unmistakable backing croon. A nicely polished rock tune, that is, until a boisterous power-chorus rocks up, finally descending into the spectacle of two sparky guitar lines trying to decimate each other.
Whilst declaring himself the ‘Keeper of the Flame’, Wire uses his leftfield sonic accompaniment to consider both his role as one of the final bastions of the rock’n’roll rebel spirit light that never goes out, as well as the nurturer of his own creative embers and the misanthropic gust that gets them roaring: “Radio on, typewriter clicking/Everything is ok, no one is listening/I’m not a socialist anymore/The SOCIAL bit leaves me cold”.
Word has it we’re to expect more solid but fragile anthems side-by-side with a sprinkling of psychedelic jazz fusion on the rest of the album. We’ll be feverishly refreshing bandcamp from now until the day The Wire works out how to upload it all.
‘Keeper of the Flame’ by Nicky Wire is only available to hear through bandcamp, so we’ve included the link below: