Manchester Orchestra
Simple Math


5.0
classic

Review

by Alxander18 USER (5 Reviews)
May 2nd, 2011 | 76 replies | 6,807 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Manchester Orchestra deliver a home run.

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

The anticipation for this album, in all honesty, had reached a fever pitch that was once only reserved for often touring mates Brand New. Critics have been saying something along the same lines about Manchester Orchestra since their inception: They're almost as good as Brand New, they have a classic in them but not yet, etc. While fair on some levels, I believe it's unfair to this band; Andy Hull especially stands as a singular talent, his unique and versatile southern croon easily differentiating Manchester Orchestra from Brand New, or any other band. Each album has seen a vast and almost scary improvement over the last, but there was always just the tiniest fault left over. Call it 10 steps forward and 4 steps backward. I'm Like A Virgin Losing A Child became too pop-oriented for its own good, and arguably the same happened with its follow-up, Mean Everything To Nothing: the second half of the album suffered due to meandering common-place indie-pop songs.

Enter Simple Math. Whereas both previous albums were maddeningly close to perfection, this is the album that achieves it. On first listen, or under intense inspection, the listener is bowled over by just how meticulous and flawlessly put together this album is. Like A Virgin was Manchester Orchestra doing indie-pop, and Mean Everything To Nothing was the band trying out grungy-alt anthems; Simple Math is Manchester Orchestra doing anything they want, and consistently hitting it out of the park. This is 20 steps forward and no looking back. There is indie-pop, but it's bolstered with huge arrangements and meticulous atmospherics, and there are a couple tracks, Mighty and Aprils Fool, that harken back to Mean Everything To Nothing's driving guttural power, Mighty easily succeeding at being just as massive and dark as Pride off the predecessor.

The album, excluding the soft and loving opener, "Deer", is split into 2 halves: tracks 2-6 are all urgent and captivating logical progressions from Mean Everything; powerful and memorable, but much more intricate. Tracks 7-10 are all huge, orchestral, moving pieces of music that are unlike anything the band have ever done, exponential progression or not. Both are flawless, and each packed with truly awe-inspiring moments. "Pensacola" is a raucous inverse of the title track; driving, unpredictable, and gloriously big, with the inclusion of both trumpets and gang vocals. "Virgin" is the culmination of this style; it effortlessly builds up while exuding a menacing feel, until the huge and multi-tracked refrain, which is later sung by a children's choir. The title track that follows is everything this album encapsulates. It's meticulous, orchestral and lays down a palpable atmosphere for Andy Hull to show off his always improving vocals and consistently brilliant lyrics. "Leave It Alone" then also follows this track perfectly, a lush and airy number with a truly beautiful and sparse ending. Many may be put off by album closer, "Leaky Brakes." The album since the title track to this point has been unmistakeably building up. Where almost everyone will expect a cacophonous and liberating ending, this is not how this album could end. This album being a loose concept album about marriage and its trials and tribulations, how much sense would it have made if the closer was a piece of climaxing escapism? If you let go of your expectations and accept the track for what it is, it reveals itself to be the prettiest number on the album, with some affecting guitar noodling and more airy atmospherics that ends with Hull wordlessly crooning. In actuality, it seems to fit as the perfect closer to an album as timid and introspective as this is.

Fans and critics alike have been waiting for Manchester Orchestra to deliver their masterpiece, and it's finally upon us. Whether you're a fan or not, it's impossible to ignore how incredibly well thought-out and put together this album is. Everything is brilliant, indeed.


user ratings (864)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • blacklight67 (5)
    'Simple Math' is the heaviest, and darkest record Manchester Orchestra have recorded, and ...

    C.F. (4.5)
    Manchester Orchestra solidifies their cult following with an overdue mature entry into the...

    Gerbilman (3)
    The much anticipated follow up to "Mean Everything To Nothing" thrills and disappoints in ...

    Matt Wolfe EMERITUS (3.5)
    Manchester Orchestra delight and frustrate with their third full-length....

  • SowingSeason STAFF (5)
    What if we’ve been trying to get to where we’ve always been?...

    Adam Knott EMERITUS (4.5)
    I hope eventually you'll see what you've been turning me into; it's all for you....

    Blindsided (4)
    Andy Hull makes us love math again....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Alxander18
May 2nd 2011



278 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I've had writers block like a bitch, so I dunno if this is any good, but yeah.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2011



17200 Comments


that was fast.

Alxander18
May 2nd 2011



278 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I've been waiting for this album obsessively, like Knott said, this was an album easy to review.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2011



7321 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review! The album's excellent after the first listen. Andy Hull's totally amazing.

Digging: Dog Fashion Disco - Sweet Nothings

Alxander18
May 2nd 2011



278 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks man, and I totally agree. I thought it would be a grower since it's not as immediate as the previous 2, but it's instantly rewarding.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2011



7321 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I still think Mean Everything To Nothing is their greatest, but this may change in time. Virgin is so good.

Alxander18
May 2nd 2011



278 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I just think this is leaps and bounds better than Mean Everything. The second half of that album was so inferior to the first. This album fits perfectly as a whole.

mothercountry
May 2nd 2011



447 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

What, the second half was brilliant. You need to listen to it more . . .

Alxander18
May 2nd 2011



278 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I've listened to it hundreds of times, I just think, besides The River, it's somewhat forgettable compared to the first half.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
May 2nd 2011



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review. I've got this at a 4 at the moment but I can definitely see it growing. I'm really loving the riffs on Mighty.

Alxander18
May 2nd 2011



278 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I'd have to say my favorite as of right now is Pensacola.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2011



7321 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Mighty, April Fool and especially Virgin are my faves right now.

lucazade22
May 2nd 2011



531 Comments


Nice review! I still think the title track is the best. Just golden.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
May 2nd 2011



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah at the moment I'm pretty sure that Virgin is the strongest song.

Alxander18
May 2nd 2011



278 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Hmm, I think Deer and Mighty aren't quite as amazing as the rest of the album. For me, it's like this.

Pensacola
Virgin
Leave It Alone
Leaky Brakes
Simple Math
Aprils Fool
Pale Black Eye
Apprehension
Deer
Mighty


SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2011



15340 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG

And I'm not even being sarcastic

Digging: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2011



7321 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Andy Hull is the man so that's totally understandable.

Alxander18
May 2nd 2011



278 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I agree Sowing. This album really is flawless, can't say it enough.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
May 2nd 2011



15340 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Im on the second song and I'm pretty sure this is blowing me away like TDAG used to when I first heard that

Alxander18
May 2nd 2011



278 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The first 2 tracks are weaker than the rest of the album, so you're in for a treat. And TDAG is exactly what this album made me think of.



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