Just weeks before original Manic Street Preachers guitarist Richey James Edwards mysteriously disappeared in 1995, he’d turned over a handful of journals to his bandmates. The lyrics found within those journals comprise the material on the British rock band’s ninth album, “Journal for Plague Lovers.” The 14 song set is due September 15 via Columbia and fans that pre-order will receive a 10 track remix album that includes interpretations by Underworld, Four Tet, and Saint Etienne.
While the Manic Street Preachers have enjoyed a successful career since Edwards’ untimely departure, lead singer James Dean Bradford concedes that this record was one they knew they’d eventually make one day, but needed time to process the events. “I think we’re blasé people in a sense,” Bradford tells Billboard.com. “We come from working-class backgrounds from south Wales; we don’t buy into any notions of closure and catharsis. But therefore, I think we were taken a bit when we started recording. It was nebulous; something that grabbed at you and you couldn’t quite explain it.”
“Facing Page: Top Left,” “Williams Last Words,” and “Pretension/Repulsion” highlight Edwards’ posthumous set of songs, of which Bradford says revolves around “the fallout of [1994’s] ‘The Holy Bible.'”
“A lot of the lyrics are at peace with themselves,” Bradford adds. “There’s a feeling of serenity. We knew we had to represent that on the record and there was going to be a softer side to it that ‘The Holy Bible’ didn’t have.”
The nature of Edwards’ disappearance has been a precarious one, to say the least — he and Bradford were supposed to fly to the U.S. on Februrary 1, 1995 for a promotional tour but Edwards never made it. He was officially presumed dead in November 2008. While Bradford and company have been sitting on these lyrics for fourteen years now, he says they’ve always had it in mind that they would use them someday- it just was a matter of getting to the place where they could.
“I remember looking at these lyrics before he disappeared and remember thinking ‘I don’t know if I can use these,'” he recalls. “We were left with a clue to his feelings through these lyrics; I’ve gotten them out from time to time, but always thought ‘I can’t do it.’ For various reasons: emotional and academically, I didn’t feel that I could do them justice for a long time. But the overriding thing was that he left us with these and we felt that he wanted us to do something with them. ”
Manic Street Preachers are scheduled to return to the United States this fall for the first time in 10 years for a two and a half week club tour. The band will kick things off on September 21 at Neumo’s in Seattle.