Saturday, April 5, 2014

Album Review: Manchester Orchestra - Cope

Album Rating: A-
In a modern age of music where every band and album is relentlessly categorized into genre and sub-genre, it is disappointing to look at the state of straight up rock. Rock music is almost nonexistent in popular music currently, and indie has taken over from alternative. On Manchester Orchestra's fourth LP, Cope, the band plays with full force and delivers a captivating rock album; something that has been lacking greatly from current music.

Cope differs greatly from past Manchester Orchestra releases. Gone are the sentiments and airy passages of "I Can Feel A Hot One," and "Don't Let Them See You Cry." Replacing them are walls of sound and distortion, that leave the listener barely any room to breathe. While this may sound suffocating, Cope never becomes overbearing, and the melodic choruses give the band room to expand. "Top Notch" easily blows the door open as the album starts. With its powerful guitars and Andy Hull's signature voice, it is a fitting beginning. Following, are ten more powerful songs, each with its own standout moment. "Choose You" contains one of the most ear-worming choruses in recent memory, and is coupled by driving verses of muted and fuzzy guitars. It plays off similar to "In My Teeth," from Mean Everything To Nothing, except turned up to 11 on all accounts.

The stark black and white contrast of the album's artwork fit the theme of the album well, as variety is not the key idea here. Each and every song is full of distorted guitar and energy. The band never relaxes or takes a break at any point during the record, but never feels worn or bored. The second-half of the album does take a backseat to the first half, especially the 3 song punch of "The Mansion," "The Ocean," and "Every Stone." Not to say that its bad, but the songs are slightly forgettable in comparison to Side A.

Throughout the course of the disc, there a slight few moments where the guitars and tones become monotonous. The wide variety of themes and styles from their past releases are absent on Cope, and this may turn off fans of the band's more expansive moments. Cope is a completely different sort of album from the band, and this step towards barreling rock is a wise move. Manchester plays rock music to their advantage very well. Guitar riffs are heavy and purposeful, and Hull's vocals are mixed perfectly with the instruments. A little more emotion and intensity may have been nice on his part, but this is just a small suggestion since the scope of the album is so cohesive.

Cope is not going to be revolutionary to rock music, but it may just be the kickstart it needs to its faded heart. Music doesn't need to be dissected and examined on every level. All that is needed is guitars, some drums, bass, and vocals. Hopefully more bands follow Manchester's path into fuzzed-out energetic rock, and the genre can take its rightful place on the top of music again.


Track list:

1. Top Notch
2. Choose You
3. Girl Harbor
4. The Mansion
5. The Ocean
6. Every Stone
7. All That I Really Wanted
8. Trees
9. Indentions
10. See It Again
11. Cope

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