MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA – ” A Black Mile to the Surface “

Posted: January 15, 2018 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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They may hail from Atlanta, Georgia, but Manchester Orchestra’s British indie rock influences — certainly not limited to their band name — spill out all over their fifth full-length album. Their sound doesn’t derive from the airtight punk influences of decades past; rather, there’s an anthemic, widescreen feel to nearly every song on A Black Mile to the Surface.

Over a decade on from their debut, Manchester Orchestra still easily strike the fear of God into their listeners. The Andy Hull-led project has never been about quiet devastation – it’s about the extremities of the emotional spectrum and the internal conflicts that come with going there. “The Gold” immediately asserted itself as a career-best track for the band in the lead-up to the release of A Black Mile to the Surface. Indeed, as excellent as that record was, it never quite scaled the same heights elsewhere on its tracklisting. Heavenly harmonies, heart-on-sleeve lyrics and strikingly-beautiful arrangements: “The Gold,”

“The Gold” tumbles along with an intricate, syncopated beat, occasionally stopping dead in its tracks as Hull emotes the hook: “I believed you were crazy / You believe that you loved me.” Elsewhere a dark, almost apocalyptic feel invades songs like “The Moth”, where the intertwining guitar and drums loom over the vocals, creating an urgent texture. “There’s a way out / There’s a way in,” Hull repeats insistently.

Manchester Orchestra — singer/songwriter/guitarist Andy Hull, lead guitarist Robert McDowell, bassist Andy Prince, and drummer Tim Very — bring a great deal of skill and vitality to their rock formula.

The band occasionally dials down the dramatics in favor of more low-key arrangements, such as on “The Alien”, where the heavy surrealism of the lyrics is paired up with indie folk tropes like muted drums and a heavy acoustic vibe. The song wraps up with a dream-like coda that somehow evokes the hypnotic harmonies of Elliott Smith. Clearly, Manchester Orchestra have their influences cut out for them. “The Part”, one of the album’s eloquent highlights, is all heavily reverberated vocals accompanied by stark acoustic guitar. The song’s chorus (“I still want to know each part of you”) is simple and unadorned but underscores the deep level of emotion the band is working with.

A Black Mile to the Surface may get knocked for being a downer, an almost self-conscious one. But for all the melodrama, there’s plenty of smart arrangements and well-crafted musical ideas released on July 29th, 2017 through Loma Vista Recordings

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