Review Summary: With the outstanding "Mean Everything to Nothing" released this year, this bonus EP is basically hinting, "I know I'm not what you need, but it's okay with me."
EP’s are albums that fans often have mixed feelings about. They are often teases, including possibly four or five great tracks that leave the listener wanting more. After waiting for several years for a new record, EP’s are frustrating due to the fact that they aren’t full-length. In the case of “Fourteen Years of Excellence” however, Manchester Orchestra fans received an added bonus. This four-track bonus EP is a very solid record, offering three b-sides and an alternative version of Shake it Out
. “Fourteen Years of Excellent” offers an utter contrast to the noisy and upbeat “Mean Everything to Nothing,” for it is mostly acoustic and laid-back. Andy Hull’s songwriting however, is very much the same, for one out of the three b-sides wouldn’t be out of place on the full length record.
The acoustic trend is delivered by opener Anne Louise
, which is a sparse sounding piece with catastrophic lyrics. Hull is calm and heartbroken, singing “And I swear to god that I'll avenge your dead, with the best lawyers of auto-politics. And I'll spend whatever money's to be spend to try and revive your broken body again.” Hull does show a glimpse of hope here however, with “And I hope to god that you’ll remember me in heaven.” Following track It’s Ok With Me
pursues the same path, but is much more sentimental and beautiful than its predecessor. In fact, It’s Ok With Me
isn’t a far cry from “Mean Everything to Nothing’s” I Can Feel a Hot One
, its passion and lyrical theme is quite heartrending. Hull is apologetic and reluctant, “I know I’m not what you need, but it’s okay with me.” Electric guitars make a rare appearance here, the arpeggiated chords create rather a pristine ambiance.
The second half of “Fourteen Years of Excellence” propels this short EP to a fitting close; Do You Really Like Being Alone
is a fully acoustic track, only accompanied by Hull’s sharp vocals. Hull seems to be speaking to himself in this song, basically saying that he needs to solve his own problems. “Do you really like being alone? Wouldn’t blame you if you went back home and got an actual job.” The alternative version of “Mean Everything to Nothing’s” Shake it Out
is a lounge account of the actual song, driven by acoustic guitars and almost whispered vocals. Despite the differences, this adaptation is quite enjoyable and even picks up halfway through only to settle back down again.
Manchester Orchestra’s bonus EP to their 2009 release is a solid one, and has one track in particular that should not be overlooked. Both “Fourteen Years of Excellence” and “Mean Everything to Nothing” are indications that the band is growing, and will continue to release outstanding material.
Check out at least:
It’s Ok With Me
Shake it Out (Alternative Version)