In a follow up to 2011’s Simple Math, Manchester Orchestra have released long awaited album number four, Cope. After breaking into the mainstream with critically acclaimed Mean Everything to Nothing in 2009 and with singles such as I’ve Got Friends, the band gained themselves a cult following in America and Overseas.
With such a successful album behind them, it was always going to be a challenge to keep up that degree of musicianship and songwriting. Simple Math was the follow up release, and in turn the bands first attempt at a concept record. Cope however, is a totally different breed of music all together. The album has been self-produced in the comforts of their own home studio, away from time constraints and the limitations of external voices.
The result is a 40-minute all out rock-a-thon. From start to finish, it is in your face, bruising, and relentless. It is clear the band have dedicated themselves to all out rock for this one and stuck to their guts. Lead single Top Notch is riff heavy with that classic Manchester Orchestra guitar tone. It has a definite groove to it, with Andy Hull’s unique vocals soaring over the top something in line with a Band of Horses record.
The album takes on a vast soundscape for the duration. Choose You and Girl Harbour nicely show off the bands appreciation for dirty riffs yet with a mix of poppy melodies clearly taking centre stage. They obviously have a soft spot for peculiar rhythms, as seen on standout track The Ocean. It’s easy to hear influences such as Biffy Clyro coming through here, and in no way is that a bad band to take notes from. The album continues its all out assault with tightly knit riffs and drum patterns embedding themselves in your ear canals. We come to title track Cope to bring the album to to a close and things take a turn for the quieter. A slight Radiohead-esque sound to this one, but it isn’t too long until those down-tuned guitars are in full grunge mode, with Hull’s vocals seeming effortlessly sung.
Overall the album is brutally in your face, brash, bold and well put together. Its clear the lack of external pressure from the industry, along with the comfort of their own home has contributed in a positive manner to this recording. It feels like it didn’t take much thinking to map this album out. It’s beautifully arranged, flows from song to song and seems almost effortless. Manchester Orchestra have themselves a big hitter with this one.