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Manchester Orchestra - Cope Album Cover

Manchester Orchestra - Cope

Reviewed by
8.5
Manchester OrchestraCope
Record Label: Loma Vista / Favorite Gentlemen Records
Release Date: April 1, 2014
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
At it’s most simple, Cope is a pretty loud, extremely well-executed album. It’s not heavy or metal or any less earnest than a string section-happy album like Simple Math. The band’s interview after interview about how they just wanted to blow the windows off every 1970s Ford pickup are probably, and probably purposefully, overblown. Cope has invited incredible levels of talk, for sure, but most of that is just because a huge band took a long time to release new music. Even if the reports coming out were all, “Simple Math pt. 2!,” we’d still sit around making this thing into something it’s not. So let’s eschew all of this over-analysis, and just stick with the straightforward, because that’s where Cope’s heart truly lies.

“Top Notch” and “Every Stone” and closer “Cope” were released to scores of thoughtful headbanging. Which is the correct response. With chugging and catchiness and lines like, “We all believed in ghosts / Until you walked into the wall,” we find ourselves right in the sweet spot of Andy Hull’s angriest-tenor-in-the-east persona. And then something like “Cope,” with its dark-as-night multi guitar approach, pummels us just enough before dissipating into Hull’s downright pensive singing. If there’s one thing Cope seems to do time and time again, it’s clock our emotions. We’re continually looking for the next build, for the next ba-doom, for the next chance to smash something. What Cope does in a manipulative way that I’m totally ok with, is remind us that the times we let things roll over us are only tolerable because those moments of aggressive (non-violent) catharsis can be oh-so-sweet.

While most songs will start similarly, with guitar gurgles so low they have dirt on them, there are bits of diversity. From the positively soothing “Indentions,” with its harmonies and clever lyricism, to the play between bending guitar riffs and Hull’s pleading of, “I am not the man you knew / I am not the man you choose,” on “Choose You,” our Southern Fried Rock comes with plenty of tasty side dishes (sorry). But look, Cope wasn’t meant to be Simple Math. In fact, it was pretty clearly created to oppose it, to show a band that had time to reflect, and who have decided that their one true love of straight up rock music was always right for them.

Then there’s “See It Again,” which I will selfishly devote an entire paragraph to, mostly because it could turn into the band’s best song. What I mean by that is it feels like the surest culmination of a band who have been around for 10 years. While it’s still a grungy chugchug love fest, it weaves some of Hull’s most vivid lyricism with a bridge that might as well take us to the Promised Land. When all of this talk about a “pummeling” and “relentless” album chime up, this is the song that comes to mind, because it’s a distillation of their new-but-old ethos. “We’re gonna do it loud and still be thoughtful and here’s a chorus about losing that which you care about the most.” It just makes sense for Manchester Orchestra, and without being too pragmatic about something as illogical as popular rock music, as a next-to-last song, “See It Again,” is genius level structuring. Add that in with the gut-punch of “Cope,” and you have the band’s best denouement of its career.

So what we end up with on Cope is not only an album that’s worth the wait, but one that seems to be pretty distinctly illuminating a path: soft-to-loud, simplicity over complexity and emotional release through power chords. The days of “Colly Strings” and “I Can Feel A Hot One” might be over, but mourning this departure seems wrong at best and standoffish at worst. The core of this band has always been power, whether that’s through words of wisdom or sheer amplitude. So it’s good to have Manchester Orchestra back, and it’s even better to have them reintroduce themselves with such an impressive shout.


SCORE: 8.5/10
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 79
12:00 AM on 03/31/14
#2
FTank
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Nice review, Blake. I'm digging this album a ton
08:12 AM on 03/31/14
#3
TimTheMechanic
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Good review! Hope this grows on me but if it's anything like last ManOrch albums it'll hit me like a truck soon.
08:27 AM on 03/31/14
#4
GRTNSFAN
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Really good review, very excited to see them live again soon.
08:35 AM on 03/31/14
#5
serotoninzero
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While I don't think " the days of “Colly Strings” and “I Can Feel A Hot One” might be over" is a necessary statement, I absolutely love this album. I do not think Manchester is planning on sticking to one way or another either, as they've shown in each of their albums. They made this album with a specific purpose and I think they did it well. I'm very excited to see these songs in a live setting. Cope is my favorite song so far.

Also thanks for putting Colour Revolt on RIYL. What I wouldn't do to see them play new music again. I got to see them with MO in Minneapolis back in.. 2007. Would love to see Manchester drag them back out on tour someday.
08:38 AM on 03/31/14
#6
Jaytothesyg
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I definitely like this album but need to spend a lot more time with it
08:47 AM on 03/31/14
#7
InaGreendase
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Would knock off a point, but yeah, pretty accurate. Possibly going down as my least favorite MO album, which still puts it miles ahead of most other things.
08:50 AM on 03/31/14
#8
TylerHartman
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Fantastic review. This album is everything that I hoped it would be. I think, when all is said and done, this will be my second favorite MO album, behind METN. Beautiful stuff.
08:54 AM on 03/31/14
#9
contra11mundum
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I can't rank their albums. Each is great for different reasons, which adds to their greatness as a whole.

This album is no exception. Well done.
08:55 AM on 03/31/14
Vance Mook
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Awesome write-up Blake- just the right score for this one.

I love this album, and while I can see why many would rank it last among the band's discog, I'm finding it hard to rank any of them as they're all pretty much fantastic for their own merits (Simple Math is a personal favorite). The culmination you feel for "See It Again," I feel for "Girl Harbor". The singles feel better in context, and "All That I Really Wanted" and "The Ocean" will probably go down as two of my favorite ManOrch songs.
08:56 AM on 03/31/14
atlastitsok
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Fantastic review. This album is everything that I hoped it would be. I think, when all is said and done, this will be my second favorite MO album, behind METN. Beautiful stuff.
Leaning towards agreeing with you. After repeated listening, I am hearing a much more diverse album then i initially heard on the first go through - just not in the general way.
09:47 AM on 03/31/14
Zack Zarrillo
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Such a great LP
09:57 AM on 03/31/14
logancrosby
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While I don't think " the days of “Colly Strings” and “I Can Feel A Hot One” might be over" is a necessary statement, I absolutely love this album. I do not think Manchester is planning on sticking to one way or another either, as they've shown in each of their albums. They made this album with a specific purpose and I think they did it well. I'm very excited to see these songs in a live setting. Cope is my favorite song so far.

Also thanks for putting Colour Revolt on RIYL. What I wouldn't do to see them play new music again. I got to see them with MO in Minneapolis back in.. 2007. Would love to see Manchester drag them back out on tour someday.
Colour Revolt played their first show (and probably last) in years last weekend in Jackson, MS. It was beautiful. There's not another band that gives me chills like them.
10:07 AM on 03/31/14
Blake Solomon
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Colour Revolt played their first show (and probably last) in years last weekend in Jackson, MS. It was beautiful. There's not another band that gives me chills like them.
well you just simultaneously ruined/made that guys day hahah.
10:09 AM on 03/31/14
Blake Solomon
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Would knock off a point, but yeah, pretty accurate. Possibly going down as my least favorite MO album, which still puts it miles ahead of most other things.
i certainly try to sidestep the idea of ranking albums, and am still figuring out where this one lands. simple math was just so powerful to me, which is not to imply that this is less-so, it's just hard to figure this stuff out when you factor in what four years does to a listener.

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