Pop-noir with a vengeance is a dish best served cold, and there's nowhere colder for making the most elegiac but human music than Wales. With a love of literature, fiction and darkness going hand in hand with a knack for melody, it stands to reason that The Anchoress, aka Catherine AD, should be quite the superfan of her nation's heroes, Manic Street Preachers.
The Anchoress' upcoming album not only 'deconstructs normative ideas of love and romance', but features a track that 'ironically references a bedroom shrine to Margaret Thatcher'. Hell, this stuff could have come straight from the page of Richey Edwards or Nicky Wire.
And so, to get under the skin of the music that really makes The Anchoress tick, we asked her to pick her top 10 Manics' songs of all time.
The Anchoress releases her debut album, Confessions Of A Romance Novelist, on 15 January 2016.
“I am an architect /They call me a butcher”
The first Manics songs I ever clapped my ears on. I can still remember how it just completely stopped me in my tracks with its litany of literary name-dropping. There was no hope for me after that, and I was straight down to the public library ordering books by the armful and seeking out every old interview I could find of theirs. So began my journey with the band…
2. Kevin Carter
“Wasted your life in black and white”
My favourite track from the very first Manics album I ever bought after saving up my weekly pocket money. Richey’s ability to juxtapose such condensed images that also manage to construct a succinct yet vivid biography of the Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist is a hallmark for me of the band’s lyrical prowess.
3. Comfort Comes
“The difference between love and comfort / Is that comfort's more reliable and true”
My favourite B-side from the Life Becoming A Landslide EP that, in hindsight, hinted at what was to come, musically speaking.
“Too many teenage holes to fill”
I spent an unhealthy number of hours lying in the bath listening to Gold Against The Soul after I borrowed a CD copy from my local library. This was my favourite track that often soundtracked me turning into a prune…
5. 4st 7lbs
“Choice is skeletal in everybody's life”
I probably don’t need to explain why this is one of my favourite Manics songs. An absolute lyrical masterclass that verges on poetry rather than pop music.
6. Little Baby Nothing
“Your lack of ego offends male mentality”
It was a close call between this and ‘Methadone Pretty’ from Generation Terrorists but this song ruined me for the next ten years in setting the bar way too high thinking every man might be as capable of understanding what it’s like to inhabit the female body… My lifetime ambition is to duet on this with the band. Hint! Hint!
7. Rewind The Film
"I want to feel small / holding on my father's hand..."
A Manics song where someone else sings the majority of the lead vocal just shouldn't make sense. But Richard Hawley's gloriously melancholic tones add the perfect amount of melodrama to this nostalgic paean to lost youth. Accompanied by the stunning video by Kieran Evans, this song formed a bittersweet soundtrack to the sudden death of my father two years ago.
8. Love Torn Us Under
“Memory cannot choose where it wants to be”
The achingly beautiful B-side to ‘She is Suffering’. A brilliant solo turn from James Dean Bradfield.
9. Jackie Collins Existential Question Time
“A situationist sisterhood of Jackie and Joan”
Questions of sexual morality set against the backdrop of some killer guitar hooks… After falling out of love with the band for a time, Journal For Plague Lovers signalled a kind of homecoming for me which was underlined by getting to interview Nicky Wire for a few hours at their London show for this release. He was just as smart, funny and well-read as you could imagine.
10. Europa Geht Durch Mich
“More words and less meaning”
Not least because it lyrically checks Simple Minds with whom I’ve been touring this year…
Manic Street Preachers be playing Everything Must Go in full, along with 'hits, b-sides and new songs' in their native Wales with a huge show at Swansea's Liberty Stadium on Saturday 28 May 2016. Support comes from Public Service Broadcasting and Super Furry Animals.