Months after the release of the harrowing The Holy Bible, Manic Street Preachers guitarist Richey James disappeared, leaving no trace of his whereabouts or his well-being. Ultimately, the remaining trio decided to carry on, releasing their fourth album, Everything Must Go, in 1996. Considering the tragic circumstances that surrounded it, Everything Must Go is the strongest, most focused, and certainly the most optimistic album the Manics ever released. Five of the songs feature lyrics Richey left behind before his disappearance, and while offering no motivation for his actions, they do hint at the depths of his despair. Nicky Wire wrote the remaining lyrics, and his songs give the record its weight and balance, confronting the issue of Richey's disappearance in a roundabout way, never explicitly mentioning the topic but offering a gritty dose of realistic optimism offering the hope that things will get better; after the nihilism of The Holy Bible, the outlook is all the more inspiring. Furthermore, the Manics' musical attack has become leaner; their music still rages, but it's channeled into concise, anthemic rock songs that soar on their own belief. Above all, Everything Must Go is a cathartic experience -- it is genuinely moving to hear the Manics offering hope without sinking to mawkish sentimentality or collapsing under the weight of their situation.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine