For a few reasons I'm not prepared to discuss here, Manchester Orchestra's album Simple Math completely changed the trajectory of my year. And as the album's finale, 7-minute "Leaky Breaks," is playing its last notes through my headphones in an airport on my way home for Christmas, I can't help but just sort of look back over the album's tracklisting and find a memory for each and every song.
2011 saw me achieving a goal of mine that was over 5 years in the making. It was a year in which I maybe grew up more than I ever have before. It was a year that made me take quite an uncomfortable look at who I have turned into. "I never knew how capable I would become / I'm tired of talking to a wall / When I could talk to someone else." Those words, from "Pensacola," are hands down my favorite on the album. They are this year's essence, for better or worse.
I guess I was kind of at this place where I thought, "Ok, this is how me and my life are, and this is how it will always be." I thought that how I acted and responded to things was the only way I ever would. People never change or whatever. To a certain extent, I believe that to be true. And I also believe that, to a certain extent, people shouldn't change. So much of this life is bullshit, that all we ever really have is how we are. I don't even completely know what I'm saying, because I feel like this is so wishy-washy and back-and-forth and whatever else. But I suppose all I mean to say is, we should change because we want to. I'm certainly not an oppressed individual in anyway, but I found out this year that I could get what I wanted without having to make myself into something I'm not. Because if I did do that, would what that "different" person wants even be the same as what I want?
Andy Hull, on song after song, struggles with his identity and what it's doing to those around him. At times it's destructive, at times it's so lonely and miserable that you don't want to do anything but reach out and give the dude a hug. But it's always him. And I don't think it's selfish to say to the world, "Look, this is what I've been given and this is what I'm going to do with it." With songs that are forceful in an almost therapeutic way ("April Fool" or "Virgin"), Manchester Orchestra created an outlet that's a two-way street. You know after hearing an album like Simple Math that these dudes feel a lot better, and it's kind of like we're all getting fixed together.
It's still a little weird to admit this, but I don't think I would be where I am right now if I had not heard Simple Math when I did. And if that sounds like a gross exaggeration, perhaps that's because it probably is. But if there's one thing I wouldn't mind exaggerating about, it's this. I've never really felt the need to thank a band before, but basically, that's exactly what I want to do. Thank you, Manchester Orchestra. If the goal of this whole thing is just to be alright and be better, I'd like to think we've both achieved just that.
2011 was a weird year. 2011 was a difficult year. 2011 was a year I would never change.
Here's what i'll say on the subject and that's it: "I Can Feel A Hot One" is easily the best song on Mean Everything to Nothing. At the very least, buy this song on iTunes when it officially releases. I like the rest of the album decently enough, but this song is a ten (10). We'll see if any of the other songs stick with me past a few weeks.
But I do know this one will.
"I Can Feel A Hot One"
I could feel a hot one taking me down
For a moment, I could feel the force
Fainted to the point of tears
And you were holding on to make a point
What's the point?
I'm but a clean man, stable and alone man
Make it so I won't have to try
The faces always stay the same
So I face the fact that I'm just fine
I said that I'm just fine
I remember, head down,
After you had found out
Manna is a hell of a drug
And I need a little more, I think
Because enough is never quite enough
I took it like a grown man crying on the pavement
Hoping you would show your face
But I haven't heard a thing you've said
In at least a couple hundred days
What'd you say?
I was in the front seat, shaking it out
And I was asking if you felt alright
I never want to hear the truth
I want to hear your voice, it sounded fine
My voice, it sounded fine
I could feel my heartbeat taking me down
And for the moment, I would sleep alright
Invading with a selfish fear
To keep me up another restless night
Another restless night
The blood was dry, it was sober
The feeling of audible cracks
And I could tell it was over
From the curtains that hung from your neck
And I realized that then you were perfect
And my teeth ripping out of my head
And it looked like a painting I once knew
Back when my thoughts weren't entirely intact
To pray for what I thought were angels
Ended up being ambulances
And the Lord showed me dreams of my daughter
She was crying inside your stomach