REVIEW: Manchester Orchestra – “Simple Math”

Manchester Orchestra / Simple Math / Favorite Gentlemen

On their third album, Atlanta group Manchester Orchestra are building their range in numerous different directions – doling out operatic strings, jolly chant-along breaks, and evil trumpet peels. Still, it never feels as if they’re stretching themselves too thin, or making choices that don’t work for either the tone of individual songs or that of the album as a whole. The title track is structured similarly to many of those on Mean Everything to Nothing, carrying a diverse range and a heartfelt hook, but the augmentation of group-chanted vocals and technical skill creates a fuller-sounding track that will have tears welling up on eyelids. It seems obvious for the group to want to write songs with an orchestra (ahem) – but, looking back at their last album, guitars and some keys really dominated the melodies. One can’t help but wonder what some of those tracks would sound like given the Simple Math treatment.

But, lest you think the record is all drama, look no further than “Pensacola” and “April Fool”, which fall back-to-back early in the tracklisting and are clear evidence of the fun Manchester Orchestra was having in the recording studio as well as the reeling, balls out rock of which they are capable. Finally, one can’t review an album by the Atlanta outfit without mentioning the bearded fireball that is frontman Andy Hull, who is at once honest, vulnerable and fed up. Hull’s chameleon voice is as goosebump-inducing at a whisper as it is when turned up to 11. Judging by the compositions on Simple Math, it wouldn’t be too surprising to find Manchester Orchestra displaying even more growth on the next go around – and pulling it off. It’s really, just simple math.

Download: “Simple Math”, “April Fool”, “Virgin”

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