Newest LP by Manchester Orchestra reaches new heights
Manchester Orchestra released its newest LP, “Cope,” on April 1. The album begins with loud, crushing guitars and drum beats, proving that Manchester Orchestra is not afraid to turn up the volume. But about 20 seconds into the song, the volume drops as Andy Hull serenades his listeners to a slightly softer beat. This song continues throwing its listeners around on a rock roller coaster as the sound drops and rises. This theme continues throughout the album. There is no doubt it starts off with power, be it by the demanding instrumentals or the incredible voice Hull hides beneath his full beard.
Ian Cohen’s review of the Manchester Orchestra’s new album on pitchfork.com is hesitant, but says “Cope” is “probably like nothing else you’ve heard all year.” While Cohen is right, Cope is probably like nothing else you’ve heard from Manchester Orchestra lately, too. Its last album, “Simple Math,” was sort of a flop, and this album definitely makes up for it. Cope is more than something to blast and sing along to in your car; as sputnikmusic.com puts it, this album is an experience on its own.
Lately, the line that separates alternate, rock and alt-rock has been slipping. 5 Seconds of Summer and Nada Surf are currently on the same alternative rock list as Nirvana — two completely different styles of music, with different fan bases that stand for that. Alternative rock has become a sort of umbrella term describing any sound resembling that of the late ’80s and early ’90s. Manchester Orchestra helps clear up the mess that is alt-rock, and defines what it actually consists of — although, it does take more than just softer vocals and thrashing guitars to make an alt rock band that’s considered valid.
While “Cope” is, according to absolutepunk.net, “a pretty loud, extremely well-executed album,” problems arise for the listener after the second or third time through. The songs begin to blend together. This album proves that Manchester Orchestra has an agreed upon sound, but its song pattern rarely varies or surprises the listener. The chord progressions become dull, and every huge slam of sound that emerges from behind Hull’s soft vocals by the hands of Chris Freeman, Robert McDowell, Tim Very and Andy Prince become expected.
The band, which had its beginnings in 2004 in the suburbs of Atlanta, Ga., named itself in dedication to the English rock city of Manchester. It’s lost a few members along the way (including a drummer and bassist), but that didn’t stop it from making some killer records. The band members’ “Cope” tour starts on April 17, and Hull is known for having an incredible live personality. A 2011 Los Angeles Times review says Manchester Orchestra is “unaware of their power over an audience,” as it made a concert into a “spastic strobe-lighted” show.
Leading with Hull on vocals, McDowell on guitar, Very drumming, Prince carrying the bass line and backed up by keyboardist Freeman, Manchester Orchestra has reached new heights. Overall, if you find yourself in the mood for alternative rock, “Cope” is a prime choice.