Manchester Orchestra
Mean Everything to Nothing


5.0
classic

Review

by David James Young USER (181 Reviews)
April 23rd, 2009 | 44 replies | 9,113 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: You mean everything to nobody but me.

5 of 5 thought this review was well written

A lot can change in what seems like a fairly short amount of time. Deceptively American quintet Manchester Orchestra had humble beginnings as the brainchild of one Andy Hull, releasing their debut record in 2006 entitled I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child, garnering a small but solid following in the wake of it. The album centralised itself around themes of belonging and introspective desperation, with Hull’s timid, unsure lyrics and vocals at the centre of the twangy indie pop. What happened inbetween then and now remains a mystery to anyone but the band themselves, but what the Orchestra have returned with is, to use an old chestnut, a different kettle of fish entirely.

Mean Everything to Nothing, the second LP from the band, sees the kind of reinvention that leaves precious little of the foundations that defined the band’s sound previously, but leaves enough to recognise it’s the same band. Having said that, it’s a difficult task trying to envision many of these numbers as a part of the band’s past. Gone are Hull’s uneasy confessions and pleas such as “I confide in wolves at night”, “Don’t let them see you cry” and “Won’t you rescue me?”, sung quietly and unassumingly. No, sir; this time around it’s all “I am the only son of a pastor I know who does the things I do”, “I’ve got friends in all the right places” and “I need a little more…because enough is never enough”.

If you think they sound different on paper, just wait until you hear Andy singing them. Previously limited in his ability and dynamics, Mean Everything to Nothing sees his vocals keep its higher range, but loaded up with plentiful new attributes. At practically any given point on the record, he’ll be scowling, roaring and spitting his way through volatile, aggressive and demanding lyrics; bold in their ideas and masterful in their execution, particularly come chorus time. There are moments that are just plain scary in terms of how emotional Hull gets in his delivery, whether his way about it be raucously extroverted (“Shake It Out”, “Pride”) or shockingly, contrastingly quiet and introverted (“I Can Feel A Hot One” and hidden track “Jimmy, He Whispers” the best examples of this). These tracks are obviously deeply personal works with layers of purpose and meaning, and in turn have brought out the very best of Andy as a frontman, a singer and as a writer.

He’s not alone in this serious maturing and development of sound. The rest of the Orchestra maintain the tight interconnectivity that kept I’m Like A Virgin consistent, but have turned up their amps and broadened their horizons with an array of new guitar tones, chirping keyboard lines, darker-sounding licks, droning arpeggios and a drumming backbone that would make Max Weinberg proud. There is a cohesiveness amongst the five-piece that is especially noticeable on Mean Everything, and there is perhaps no better an example of that than the album’s finale, “The River”. A heart-wrenching ballad, the band encapsulate their newly-realised sound at both its most hushed and at its vast, roaring loudest; complete with gorgeously arranged piano, flowing guitar picking and subtle, moving orchestration. Possibly the best demonstration of how far Manchester Orchestra have come since I’m Like a Virgin, this track is one of many highlights to be found on the records’ eleven-track entirety.

The fact that an album that will be remembered as one of 2009’s essentials has come from a band that it simply didn’t seem possible of is proof alone that this year can only get better from here on in. At his most vulnerable, Hull whispers a confession on “The River”: “I think I talk to you best when I sing”. On Mean Everything to Nothing, Manchester Orchestra have given us one hell of a conversation.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
StrizzMatik
April 23rd 2009



3175 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Heard a lot of great things about this record, have to check it out.

Digging: United Nations - The Next Four Years

Vooligan
April 23rd 2009



3541 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Heard ive got friends on the j's this morning, pretty cool song.

Kiran
Emeritus
April 23rd 2009



6000 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I really liked the review, well done. I think you play up the reinvention of their sound a little too much but otherwise I agree with most of what you had to say. I Can Feel A Hot One is still my favourite Manchester Orchestra song, ever since the EP.

AtavanHalen
April 23rd 2009



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I probably did, but man...the first time I heard I've Got Friends I had to do a double-take when I heard it back-announced as MO.

itchyandscratchy
April 23rd 2009



314 Comments


record is so good

Kiran
Emeritus
April 23rd 2009



6000 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Pitchfork makes hillbilly/redneck references in their review of this, which baffled me.

AtavanHalen
April 23rd 2009



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

What did they rate it?

Kiran
Emeritus
April 23rd 2009



6000 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

5.2

http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/12944-mean-everything-to-nothing/

AtavanHalen
April 23rd 2009



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Those fucking arseholes.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
April 23rd 2009



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I tell you one thing this album has done; It's brought out what are probably the 2 best reviews of the month thus far. Fantastic work here DavID. Nah, it's better than that... I'll go exemplary. Definitely worthy of a pos. Well done.

AtavanHalen
April 23rd 2009



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Cheers, Champ Kind. I appreciate that.
Please, please, I implore you, listen to this album.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
April 23rd 2009



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Will do, although it may not be before my trip. I know I need to listen to more in-year music so as to compile a half-decent year-end list come December.

Just reading that Pitchfork review, what do you think of the KoLeon comparisons, because I didn't get that vibe from Matt's review? Of course, it would also help if you put some albums in the 'Reco by Reviewer' section...

Kiran
Emeritus
April 23rd 2009



6000 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I never really thought of the Kings of Leon comparison until I saw it mentioned in the review and although you could argue it, it's really not significant, as it needed pointing out for me to even notice.

itchyandscratchy
April 23rd 2009



314 Comments


kinda retarded comparison by pitchfork tbh

AtavanHalen
April 23rd 2009



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Band sounds nothing like KOL.

Knott-
Emeritus
April 23rd 2009



10194 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

^Not true, they have GUITARS AND DRUMS AND EVERYTHING.

Yeha band sounds nothing like KoL.

This is so good.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
April 23rd 2009



17196 Comments


pretty sure this is their third album.

Kiran
Emeritus
April 23rd 2009



6000 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

2nd full length + 1 EP

Athom
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2009



17196 Comments


nah dude, what about Nobody Sings Anymore?

itchyandscratchy
April 24th 2009



314 Comments


no this is their sophomore pretty sure



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