Release Date: Apr 1, 2014
Record label: Loma Vista Recordings
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock
Manchester Orchestra aren't that big of an enigma music-wise. They usually play off the strengths of Andy Hull's life-dramatics with bits of fiction strewn in here and there. They often manage to put out a hyped and great all-round product with their stylistic delivery coming off more cinematic than anything else. Amid these much welcomed theatrics, it always appealed to me how much they stay true to the artistry in their lead's mind.
Atlanta five-piece Manchester Orchestra have been tackling heavy subject matter— life, death, faith and crisis thereof—since their 2006 debut. On this fourth full-length, their existential musings are bolder than ever, with layers of brooding guitar cranked up and pointed to the heavens. Just listen to the powerful strains of “Top Notch” and “The Mansion,” or the ominous chug of the title track, which closes the album in a burst of pure spiritual defiance.
“We wanted to make the kind of album that’s missing at this time in rock: something that’s just brutal and pounding you over the head every track,” Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra states plainly in the press release for new LP Cope. “Whereas Simple Math was a different palate with each song, a different colour, I wanted this to be black and red the whole time.” It’s an interesting opening gambit from the Georgian five-piece, who celebrate their 10th birthday this year. Following up Simple Math, the band’s most applauded and commercially successful to date (it’s their only record to chart in the UK), is no easy feat, but for Cope, Hull and co have whipped out the big guns.
Manchester Orchestra's fourth studio effort, 2014's Cope, is a heavy, often dark, yet incredibly melodic album that finds the Atlanta outfit delving deep into its post-hardcore roots. Recorded in part at the band's home studio -- which is actually just lead singer Andy Hull's parents' house, where he recorded the band's debut as a teenager -- Cope follows up the group's ambitious 2011 concept album Simple Math. As with that album, Cope features Hull's longstanding themes of anger, pain, loss, and insecurity, both personal and professional.
Manchester Orchestra are no stranger to labels like “heavy” and “loud,” but their fourth album, Cope, is something else on another level. It’s difficult to argue that Manchester haven’t continuously evolved their sound since their 2006 debut album, Like A Virgin Losing A Child. While they’ve maintained core attributes throughout their career, each album has been different enough to cause some to question their ability to find an identity and others to embrace them as a creative force playing to their inspirations.
Wanna know what we thought of the new offering from Manchester Orchestra? Read on... What’s immediately clear upon the very first listen of Manchester Orchestra’s new album ‘Cope’ is that the band aren’t keen to fool around. The Atlanta group’s fourth record kicks into life with a galloping set of overdriven riffs and rhythms that is ‘Top Notch’, a stark contrast to the melancholic opening of ’11’s ‘Simple Math’.
This fourth album from Atlanta Georgia’s most geographically misleading quintet abandons the prettier, quieter moments from their last album, 2011’s ‘Simple Math’, and focuses instead on turbo-charged power-pop. Guitars are crunched, drums are hammered and silly synths add an OK Go sheen, and the result is like prime-era Jimmy Eat World or Weezer circa ‘Maladroit’ minus the crushing disappointment that it’s not as good as ‘Pinkerton’. Second song ‘Choose You’ is especially triumphant, a storm of joyful singing and gigantic riffs.
On 2011's Simple Math, this Atlanta band played indie rock full of grand ambitions and experimental loose ends. This album sets lyrics about shaky adulthood to meat-and-potatoes guitar rock (think MMJ via Foo Fighters). There are big, well-crafted hooks on the Oasis-y "The Mansion" and the melancholy slow-burner "Indentions," though they're often stuck in clunky arrangements and muddy self-production.
In an early episode of How I Met Your Mother (just go with me for a second, okay?), the usual suspects are out to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Everyone’s favorite sociopath Barney Stinson promises to set the right mood with his “Get Psyched” mix CD. What sets apart his CD from the thousands of pretenders? Rather than ebb and flow, rising and falling to create a nice experience, “It’s all rise,” Barney exclaims as the introductory shouts of Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” sound through the limousine.
Bigger isn’t always better. The thing about drama and bombast is that they’re generally best used sparingly; a fireworks display is more likely to capture your attention in relative quiet, and the same goes for explosive arena rock climaxes. That being said Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull is quite good at making these booming, powerful statements.
Clocking in at just shy of 40 minutes, Manchester Orchestra’s fourth long-player appears to have been recorded with the aim of going back to basics. Cut at their home studio and self-produced, there’s a notable attempt to serve up something more stark and raw than 2011 fan favourite Simple Math. The result is an album that flips between blistering, all-out jams and plodding, overwrought workouts that edge dangerously close into teenage emo territory.
If you’re stoked that indie rock no longer has to remotely resemble “rock”, Manchester Orchestra’s fourth LP, Cope, is probably like nothing else you’ve heard all year. "Top Notch" sets the tone immediately and it's that of a fire alarm—the drums loudly stutter-stomp, the guitars strain in harmony at an even higher volume, and Andy Hull’s rebel yell is even louder. This is the sort of thing that used to be called “alternative rock” out of habit, and in 2014, it’s actually earned that name.
As there is no standard formula for a Manchester Orchestra record, those expecting Cope to sound anything like the band’s three previous records are bound to be a little confused. The songs here are stripped down quite a bit from 2011’s concept record Simple Math, less experimental and a little darker. But taken as a whole, Cope is still strongly relevant.
What’s black and white and red all over? There have been a few answers to the question, but according to Manchester Orchestra frontman Andy Hull – who formed the Atlanta-based, mildly Manchester-music influenced band a decade ago – they are the three colours of Cope, their fourth studio album. While 2011’s Simple Math varied in speed and style, here things are even more straightforward. Hull’s intended colour scheme is an exact match with the paint chart, with Cope offering eleven monochrome melodies with hints of love, blood, fury and shame.