If Everything Must Go found Manic Street Preachers coping with Richey James' sudden, unexplained disappearance, its follow-up, This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, finds them putting the tragedy behind them and flourishing as a trio. Wisely, the group builds on the grand sound of Everything Must Go, creating a strangely effective fusion of string-drenched, sweeping arena rock and impassioned, brutally honest punk. Since the band never writes about anything less than major issues, whether it be political or personal, it's appropriate that their music sounds as majestic and overpowering as their pretensions. Given that the first single was titled "If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next," calling the Manics pretentious is fair game, but they make their pretensions work through a blend of intelligence, passion, and sheer musicality. This Is My Truth sports more musical variety than its predecessors, which means it can meander a bit, particularly toward the end. Nevertheless, these misgivings disappear with repeated listens, as each song logically flows into the next. If the album ultimately isn't as raw or shattering as The Holy Bible or emotionally wrenching as Everything Must Go, it's because the ghost of Richey has been put behind them. That doesn't mean that This Is My Truth is light, easygoing listening -- the portentous, murky closer "SYMM" guarantees that -- but it's not as torturous as its immediate predecessors. But what it shares with them is a searing passion and intelligence that is unmatched among their peers on either side of the ocean -- and, in doing so, it emphasizes the Manics' uniqueness as one of the few bands of the '90s that can deliver albums as bracing intellectually as they are sonically.