Manchester Orchestra
I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child



by Ben Greenbank USER (41 Reviews)
August 16th, 2007 | 18 replies

Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Machester Orchestra's debut is more a who's-who of the major indie rock bands of the last fifteen years than a cohesive and original album.

If there is one major problem with modern music and more specifically modern indie music it’s that far too many bands are content to simply regurgitate the music of their (vastly superior) influences. It seems like every genre has their one seminal band followed closely by a tenfold of clones. Maybe I just set my standards too high but when I listen to new music I want just that; something new. What I don’t want is to hear the same music I already love re-recorded by teenagers. Take Atlanta’s Manchester Orchestra, their music is pleasant enough, some good songs, some not so good but all together it’s a stellar burst of indie rock. Problem is that Built to Spill did this ten years ago, and not only that but they did a lot better job of it. Don’t be so quick the write the band off however; to their credit Manchester Orchestra has a trick up their collective sleeves. In order to avoid the music loving public realising the obvious they have the cunning ploy of marketing themselves to the pop punk crowd who think Pavement is the British word for sidewalk. It’s a shame they didn’t put so much thought into song writing.

“I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child” opens up with easily its strongest work. “Wolves at Night” seems like great single material. It has a bouncy Modest Mouse feel and even contains the same dissonance that made Isaac Brock such an influential song writer. Worth mentioning also is that vocalist Andy Hull sounds identical, not close, identical, to Placebo’s Brain Molko. So much so at first listen a brief Wikipedia check was needed to make sure this wasn’t a side project. From a very solid early grounding the album floats around in various directions never quite nailing anything of interest but never dropping low enough to really warrant negative comment. It’s all just far too safe in truth. “Where Have You Been” is reminiscent of a stripped back Arcade Fire number. They attempt to go for the epic but the song just falls flat and never really gets going despite a promising start. Lyrically the band is outwardly Christians in their message. “Now That Your Home” leads with the line “Sweet Jesus, I swear that I love you,” and religion remains a recurring theme throughout. However don’t be fooled this is not the witty and intelligent manner in which Brand New or Modest Mouse approach spiritually but a far simpler approach that verges on worship. Not only is the content weak, so is the delivery. Hull lacks the way with words with has built Bright Eyes and Death Cab for Cutie such successful careers.

However despite all the failings there is a glimmer of potential. Ignoring all the plagiarism there is something here that, with a firm sense of direction and a more original sound, could make for a good follow up. The band has the song writing potential as shown by songs like, “Wolves at Night” and “Sleeper 1972” and they are more than proficient instrumentally. Like many debut albums though they struggle with consistency and are yet to carve out a niche for themselves. All is not lost though, Radiohead once made a awful and generic slice of Brit-Pop named Pablo Honey and that fact alone always gives me hope that a band can achieve anything no matter how bland or generic their debut album may be.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
August 16th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

this is an alright album

i think they have alot of potential. as shown in songs like where have you been? and i can barely breathe

October 26th 2007


Album Rating: 3.0

I saw them live twice, once with Brand New and once with Say Anything. I like them more live than I do on their album. The sound just has this eerie feeling that repeats and the vocals don't have the same punch as if they were delivered live. When Andy screams OH MY GOD, MY GOD WHERE EXACTLY HAVE YOU BEEN as he did both times I saw them live I get chills. However, when I listen to the song on the album it is more of a yawn. Lots of potential for this band though. I would be interested in listening to their sophomore effort.

November 13th 2007


Nobody Sings Anymore (their unreleased album) is amazing, but what I've heard off this was nowhere near the same caliber. It was pretty disappointing.

November 28th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

wow this is a great album getting little respect.

November 28th 2007


Where have you been gives me chills when I listen to it

November 28th 2007


Seen them live, played them on the radio, it's all good.

Not anything better than a 3 though.

February 28th 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

Wow, this album is one of my favorites. the repetition is what i like most about it, because it's just one continuous spine-chill for me. The lyrics are lacking at times, but musically, i find it very, VERY pleasing to listen to.

However, manchester live is a totally different experience. FAR better live than the album, but i still think the album deserves more credit than it's getting.

April 11th 2008


Yeah, this score is gonna be an oddball, which is fine. I just hope people will see the overall impression from the album.

July 10th 2008


Album Rating: 4.5

I acually do not agree with you on basically anything haha, but I don't expect anyone to like this as much as i did. I found your review to short, for someone who hasnt got the album & thinking it to get the vibe of this album from your review.

I found the lyrics really sincere & amazing, & where have you been is one of my favorite all time songs.

From what I've heard though MO are much better live.

July 11th 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

I can't say I agree with your review, though it's well written. I see a resemblance with Built to Spill but MO's instruments are more complex and Andy Hull has a more dynamic voice, in my opinion.

November 25th 2008


Album Rating: 3.5

I really like Andy Hull's voice although as the review said, the record is really inconsistent. The new EP is great though. Live versions of Wolves at Night and Sleeper 1972 are awesome.

Highlight of this, for me, is I Can Barely Breathe.This Message Edited On 11.25.08

Digging: The Pharcyde - Labcabincalifornia

November 25th 2008


this is pretty good :thumb:This Message Edited On 11.25.08

September 12th 2009


Album Rating: 4.0

so this is a brilliant album. how could it ever be a 2?

also, dude sounds nothing like molko to me.

September 12th 2009


Great album title

Staff Reviewer
September 12th 2009


Album Rating: 3.5

mean everything to nothing is sooooo much better than this

September 12th 2009


Album Rating: 4.0

well yeah. actually not SO much better, idk. better though.

September 12th 2009


I like the original version of Golden Ticket so much more than this one.

January 30th 2013


Album Rating: 5.0

I'm glad someone recognizes how much Built To Spill influenced (HEAVILY) this band (and death cab for cutie, and modest mouse for that matter). but I still love this record.

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