Is it possible to strike gold twice? For Manchester Orchestra it is.
No strangers to successful album releases, Manchester Orchestra returns with their new album Hope in the last quarter of the year. After bursting on the scene from Atlanta, this alt-indie band has had nothing but positive feedback on previous albums. Sticking to guitar-driven melodies, and highlighting Andy Hull’s emotional singing with beautifully constructed harmonies, this band continues to stay in stride.
In April of this year, they released the highly praised album Cope. Fans indulged in this grunge era sound-a-like with hits such as “Top Notch” and “Every Stone” leading the way in alternative charts. The lyrical content of this album fits a 90’s grunge band with topics such as death and emotionally scaring relationship problems (looks like someone has trust issues). After an overwhelmingly positive response from fans to an acoustic performance of “Top Notch,” Andy Hull decided to strip down this album and create Hope.
Digitally released in early September, Hope is the band’s attempt to recreate their sound. In this newest release, they were able to capture their darkly intimate lyrics and truly express the emotion behind Hull’s voice in a completely different way. “We know that dad drew the map but he’s a graveyard away,” the first verse of “The Mansion” struck me as a piano played softly in the background accompanied with the crying of a violin. This emotional buildup is prevalent in most of the songs on this album and gives the album a 3rd dimension.
With a title like Hope and the lyrics fit for a funeral, it seems as if they picked a title completely opposite of the mood in which the album sets, Hope. A word that comes to mind when thinking about this band’s future. The album establishes Manchester Orchestra as a force to be reckoned with. They were able to abandon the formula that made them so successful and release a work of art that is just as emotionally powerful as previous works. Sadly it fell somewhat short of a perfect album in the sense that some songs just didn’t transfer just right acoustically. It is obvious at times they miss the presence of an amplifier and highly energetic guitar riffs, but where the guitar isn’t present Hull’s voice makes up for it.
Whether you are a Manchester Orchestra fan or not, I recommend you listen to both Cope and Hope because I’m sure one of them will fit your tastes. They are both well written albums and it will be exciting to see which path they take while in the studio next time around.
My favorite songs of the album: “Girl Harbor,” “The Mansion,” “All I Really Wanted,” and “Cope”