Manchester Orchestra - Cope
Record Label: Loma Vista/ Favorite Gentleman Records
Release Date: April 1st, 2014
Andy Hull is known for his compelling music and earnest lyrics, whether he is fronting Manchester Orchestra, confessing his passions in Right Away, Great Captain! or teaming up with Kevin Devine in Bad Books. Riding off a highly successful 3rd LP from Manchester (2011's Simple Math) and 2012's second Bad Books record, Hull and the rest of the MO gang had the music community's eyes on them for the next installment in Manchester's fantastic catalog.
After several months of hype and anticipation, we were delivered Cope, a fast-paced and relentless record which almost serves as an antithesis to Simple Math. Where the latter relied on luscious strings, crooning melodies and delicate textures, Cope bombards the listener from all sides, only letting up briefly on track 9 ("Indentions").
The record begins with the soaring "Top Notch,” which also served as the first single released from the album. With heavy palm-muted guitars, enticing drums and Hull's signature tenor vocals, "Top Notch" sets the tone for the rest of the record perfectly. One of Manchester's best attributes is the ability to put out records that are solid through and through. No exception to this rule, Cope transitions smoothly through "Choose You,” "Girl Harbor" (a personal favorite of mine) and "The Mansion.”
In addition to a sense of musical urgency, Cope's lyrical content reflects upon Hull's darker and anxious side. With lines such as “I hope you don’t choke/ On that last passive word that you keep in your throat” (taken from track 5, “The Ocean”) we get the feeling that Hull has some personal demons he needs to exercise, and is not afraid to let them show.
After several more solid tracks, we approach the album’s final segment, the 1-2-3 punch of “Indentions,” “See It Again” and the monumental title track “Cope.” “Indentions” serves a minor relief from the album’s bombastic tendencies, channeling Manchester’s indie rock influences more so than the straightforward rock n roll sound Cope carries. “See It Again” hits you where it hurts, with warm and fuzzy guitars, a racing chorus and always solid rhythm section. Finally, we hit the namesake of Cope. Arguably one of the heaviest and powerful songs Hull has ever written, we are immediately hit with a monstrous riff akin to the last half of "Pride" (from 2009’s Mean Everything to Nothing). Transitioning into a scaled back verse, Hull croons “I want to watch it fall until its dark,” capturing the very essence of the song and album.
Going out with the same exhilarating riff that brought it in, "Cope" finishes the album the same way it started; loud, distorted and driving. Easily the band’s most straightforward and pounding effort yet, Cope achieves exactly what the band set out to do in the first place: "We wanted to make the kind of album that's missing at this time in rock," says frontman Andy Hull in an interview, "Something that's just brutal and pounding you over the head with every track, something unrelenting and unapologetic.”
Cope grabs hold of you and never lets go, and will surely go down as one of the most important releases of 2014
RIYL:Means Everything To Nothing, Brand New, Balance and Composure Highlights: Top Notch, Girl Harbor, The Ocean, See It Again, Cope