Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math – Review

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There hasn’t been a band in recent memory that has humbly captivated listeners the way Manchester Orchestra has over the last few years. Considering the unassuming small town beginnings, the creative word-smith lyrical structure, and a mixture of endearing and potent indie rock, it’s no surprise why the groups previous album “Mean Everything To Nothing” was so warmly received. Not since Brand New was given scene sainthood (for whatever reason) have listeners been waiting with such anticipation for a new full-length from the outfit — but with Manchester Orchestra‘s latest full-length, modestly titled, “Simple Math,” our long wait is over.

Opening with the folksy beginning track, “Deer,Manchester Orchestra shows their roots with a collection of stripped down acoustics, piano driven verses, and Andy Hull‘s soul-injecting voice — all channeling what they do best. The intro’s sentiments are then quickly discarded when indie rock gems “Mighty” and “April Fools” surface, with casual paced indie/mounting orchestral accompaniments, and light-hearted punky rock, respectively. No matter what genre the band pulls influence though, Andy shapes his roughly ranging voice to any occasion, may it be a belted shout, a harmonized chorus line, or a soft whisper — given that “Simple Math” is a concept album (from Andy’s perspective) about a 23 year old who questions everything about life, it’s wide variety of subject matter and probing, genuine lyrics match up well with the vocal delivery.

Manchester Orchestra is also still not afraid to share their musical outbursts, where the powerful track “Pale Black Eye” has beginnings as a wobbly bar tune, but slowly slips into an untethered mess of turbulent harmonized shouts and free-range solos and back again. Much like their previous material, pure emotion drives every song, and uncompromising artistic creativity never finds the band up overly-traveled paths — leading to truly extraordinary sides of indie, rock, and folk being explored, although the band never stays stagnant on any one genre.

The overly-used term, “hipsters,” seems to perfectly fit the stereotypical listener base of this band and I won’t argue that, but the unwaivering passion and picturesque stories that Manchester Orchestra create, are simply beyond anything a distasteful set of snobby fans can make you feel about an artist. “Simple Math” continues where “Mean Everything To Nothing” left off, with another ten tracks of beautifully exercised indie, featuring lyrics of voluminous meaning like ones from the album’s title track, “What if we’ve been trying to get to where we’ve always been? What if I was wrong, and started trying to fix it? What if you believed me? Everything is brilliant.” we start to see why Manchester Orchestra is one of the most genuine, talented, and moving bands of the last 5 years. And just like wine and bands like Brand New and Colour Revolt, they only get better and more mature with age — so we will have much to look forward to from these five modest gents for some time. [Staff]

Score: 4.75 (out of 5)

Release Date: May 10th, 2011
Record Label: Favorite Gentlemen Records
Genre: Indie

RIYL: Brand New, Bad Books, Dear And The Headlights

Track Listing:
1. Deer
2. Mighty
3. Pensacola
4. April Fool
5. Pale Black Eye
6. Virgin
7. Simple Math
8. Leave It Alone
9. Apprehension
10. Leaky Breaks

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