It's impossible to imagine the Manic Street Preachers without Nicky Wire. He's rarely sung on their records but his ornery, literal, political bent can be seen in every element of the band, from their image to the words he writes for James Dean Bradfield. Wire may fuel the band but the fact that he doesn't sing the words he writes makes him an ideal choice for a solo album, and he delivered his, I Killed the Zeitgeist, a few scant months after Bradfield's The Great Western. They are very, very different beasts. Bradfield's album is quiet and intimate, sounding very much like the Manics at their mid-'90s popular peak but containing none of the political rabble-rousing hidden beneath the smooth surfaces. All of that strife is heard in full force on Wire's record, something that may be evident by its very title. In spirit, if not quite in sound, this is a throwback to early Manics, when the group was spitting out slogans and seeking confrontation, but the album isn't the same blend of punk and metal that distinguished Generation Terrorists. This is largely a ramshackle affair, sounding homemade even when it isn't, and its ragged nature is refreshing after the staid, stale pomp of the last two Manics albums. It also is the ideal background for Wire's rough, gravelly voice, something that is far less polished than Bradfield's smooth crooning, yet utterly appropriate for this solo music because it is the sound of a slowly aging outsider who is reconnecting to his rebel roots. And that's what's really appealing about I Killed the Zeitgeist: it's rough and unfinished, but it's utterly alive, with its misfires as interesting as its successes, which, naturally, makes it not only a strong solo debut, but some of Wire's most compelling music in years.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine