1001 Albums You Must Die Before You Hear
#15: Nicky Wire – I Killed The Zeitgeist (2006)
Why did the Manic Street Preachers let Nicky Wire out to sing so horrendously on his solo disc? MATT KELLY can only sigh.
Vocals. They’re a funny thing. Magazine are one of my favourite bands ever and I’ll be the first to admit that frontman Howard Devoto is a bad singer, yet his lack of melodic gifts are compensated for by his captivating, sneakily theatrical line-readings and the rich, unpredictable inventiveness of the band’s music.
Manic Street Preachers’ bassist Nicky Wire’s one and only solo album is the inverse of this.
Anyone who survived ‘Wattsville Blues’ on 2001’s Know Your Enemy knows Wire can’t sing. I mean really can’t sing. A tuneless, annoying dirge of a voice, the second he starts amateurishly droning his way through the opening title track, you know you’re in trouble.
“It’s an aesthetic” you might say, or possibly, “He’s a lyricist, not a singer.” Well, he’s singing here and deliberate aesthetic or not, he sounds terrible, his disinterest in hitting notes and prominent place in the mix causing much of the album to become flat and samey.
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It’s up to the music to save the day but it’s disappointingly meh: bland indie rock that is neither noisy nor catchy enough. There are some lyrically poignant moments such as ‘Goodbye Suicide’ but Wire’s ability to occasionally turn out a golden line doesn’t come close to compensating for what a dreary listen this is.
Though I will say that a bassist’s decision to not have any bass at all on his solo album is pretty hilarious.