Released: Epic Records, 14 September 1998
Peak UK Chart Position: #1 (3x Platinum Certification)
Few Manics recordings are as steeped in contradictions as This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours. Most glaringly, the album was an enormous commercial and critical success at the time of its release, but has historically been fairly unpopular with the band’s fans. These two facts arguably stem from the same basic reality, which is that TIMTTMY represented a major step upwards in the band’s musical and personal maturity. While hard-driving rock is of course not inherently “immature”, the type of sometimes naïve firebrand punk the Manics had put out in their early years no longer suited the post-Richey landscape of 1998. By adopting a dramatically more cerebral and sweeping sound, they simultaneously continued to increase their commercial appeal and invite accusations that they had become boring or excessively mid-paced.
While there is certainly one moment on the album where the Manics can be seen to compromise the quality of the songs in grasping for commercial success, it is actually the upbeat ‘You Stole the Sun From My Heart’. By contrast, the slower and more thoughtful songs so derided by the most determinedly rockist Manics fans are in fact mostly wonderful, owing to their superbly crafted production and sense of space. After struggling with writer’s block in recent years, Wire also took things up a level with new lyrics which, again, were focused more often than not on personal issues. The result was a record which was more varied, adult and resonant than Everything Must Go, which – while successful – was overly repetitive and unambitious. EMG was an album on which the Manics recovered musically from the immense personal shock they had experienced; This Is My Truth saw them transition fully to the more artful band of their middle period.
The album was recorded partly at Mike Hedges’ chateau in France (where EMG had also largely been made), and partly and Monnow Valley Studios and Rockfield Studios in Wales. Mike Hedges returned as producer, this time joined by past collaborator Dave Eringa, who by this time was increasingly cemented in his position as a major production partner for the band. This represented the first occasion the Manics had worked with two producers; this may go some way to explaining the greatly increased emphasis on production and studio work which defines much of the album’s sound.
The songs set aside for the record are, there is no doubt, overwhelmingly mid-tempo. In fact, TIMTTMY is as much an adult contemporary pop record as it as a rock record, if not more; but this initially worrying definition is overtaken by the sheer majesty of a number of these “boring” recordings. Sad and sweeping, ‘Ready For Drowning’ was as powerful an evocation of working class and Welsh tragedy as any rock monster on the early albums, and ‘The Everlasting’ is undeniably powerful across its entire six minute, elegiac span.
The high point of the album actually comes in the second half, however, with a run of six consecutive songs which push instrumental experimentation, production smarts, and songwriting prowess to the greatest extent the Manics had achieved up to that point. Beginning with the hugely spacious, agonised ‘I’m Not Working’ and ending with the explosive rare rock moment of ‘Nobody Loved You’, this part of the album almost forms a loose song cycle with depression and coping as its core themes. It’s entirely possible to argue that the Manics have never strung six songs of so high a quality together before or since, and yet they are criminally under-recognised to this day.
One of the reasons for the under-recognising of the album’s best songs is probably the fact that very few of them have been played after the album’s main promotional tour. The fact that the band make much of resurrecting a significant hit like ‘Australia’ shows just how far out in the wilderness the likes of ‘Be Natural’ really are. Nevertheless, TIMTTMY is a an excellent album which shows the Manics at their most experimental, personal and open, reflected in the cover – which was the first to actually feature a photograph of the band.
1) [A103] ‘The Everlasting’
2) [A100] ‘If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next’
3) [A104] ‘You Stole the Sun From My Heart’
4) [T105] ‘Ready For Drowning’
5) [A106] ‘Tsunami’
6) [T107] ‘My Little Empire’
7) [T108] ‘I’m Not Working’
8) [T109] ‘You’re Tender and You’re Tired’
9) [T110] ‘Born a Girl’
10) [T111] ‘Be Natural’
11) [T112] ‘Black Dog on My Shoulder’
12) [T113] ‘Nobody Loved You’
13 [T114] ‘S.Y.M.M.’