Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Music: Manchester Orchestra - COPE

It would be hard to put an exact date on when I started listening to Manchester Orchestra, but it's been a while. I almost left the band's first album in HMV when I bought it, but ever since then my adoration has gone without a hitch. Although the time I confronted them about their use of 'Math' over 'Maths' has to be taken note of. Indeed, there's also the host of poorly written reviews that I've managed to collate over the years, but I'm hoping to put that behind me.

The band's new effort suffers from no such grammatical error. COPE is a beast that could end The Undertaker. Where Simple Math was refined and calculated, COPE is furious and powerful. From the moment that frontman Andy Hull starts telling the twisted story of 'Top Notch' there's an urgency that spans the album. It's interesting to note the difference from the beautiful, yet meandering 'Deer' which introduced the last LP.

The three tracks released prior to the album - 'Top Notch', 'Every Stone', and 'Cope' - are all stand outs. 'Every Stone' is slightly lighter, and provides a gorgeous contrast to the tracks at either end. The closer, along with 'Trees', shows Manchester Orchestra at their distorted, grunge-fuelled best. That's not to say that they've completely departed from the band's trademark style, the body of the album is bound to please those already fans - showcased nowhere better than 'The Ocean'.

In the interview I did - almost three years ago now - they said that they had written almost one hundred songs for Simple Math, but alongside the record they produced there was something which strongly resembles COPE

"There were these two sides, there was kind of soft, intimate, folky, Bonnie Prince Billy, Neil Young kind of vibe... There was also this kind of disgusting rock record; More straightforward, kind of like Virgin"

And that's what I think we have here. We have a disgusting, yet straightforward rock record, but with the same old Manchester Orchestra at its heart. It doesn't have the frills of the earlier albums, almost no track breaks four minutes, but it's so well executed that there's almost nothing to fault. Sure, I find myself gravitating towards the heavier tracks, but you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who would call a single track 'filler'.

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