Manchester Orchestra
Cope


3.5
great

Review

by Ryan Fitz USER (32 Reviews)
March 27th, 2014 | 109 replies | 16,160 views


Release Date: 04/01/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: No ballads.

9 of 10 thought this review was well written

Somewhere around the release of "Mean Everything To Nothing", Manchester Orchestra learned they were a rock band. Andy Hull has always been a natural songwriter, "Where Have You Been?" and "Colly Strings" easily stand among the strongest written compositions of Hull's career, but they were simply a precursor to Manchester Orchestra's future meatier sound. "I'm Like a Virgin Losing A Child" was merely a product of the current indie scene, paying tribute to the airy major key tonalities that dominated alternative airways. Manchester Orchestra realized with METN that their potential was more than that. Hull's range was such that could still soar above riffs more akin to Black Sabbath than just Death Cab For Cutie. Manchester Orchestra's identity didn't have to be limited to just being an indie band, they could legitimately rock.

So, after releasing arguably Hull's most emotionally resonant collection of music in "Simple Math", chock full of strings, horns, and even children choirs, it's really no surprise Manchester Orchestra would just be itching to creating a no-frills rock record. Manchester's newest release, "Cope", no doubt about it, is precisely that. It was advertised as such, presented as such, constructed as such, and not surprisingly, plays out as such. Hell, Manchester Orchestra's discontent with the current indie scene has been clear from the get go, "We wanted to make the kind of album that's missing at this time in rock," Hull released in a statement to every music media organization in existence. "Cope" has no time for intricate arraignments, album-wide concepts, or even innovation. "Cope" is simply about, pardon the over-quote, "(brutally) pounding you over the head with every track."

There are a ton of things to enjoy about this simplified approach. The album isn't there so much to intellectualize, as it is there to experience. Hooks are exploding out of every orifice. Refrains are kept simple and easily digestible, often consisting of single repeated sentences and drawn out vowels. Riffs only have one purpose-to be massive. Case in point, "Trees" has the dirtiest riff I've heard in an indie album in years. The formula largely fulfills its purpose. "Top Notch" is likely the most infectious song Manchester has released to date. "Every Stone" is thrilling, managing to provide the mid-album breather while still being almost intense as the tracks surrounding to it. "See It Again" has the best bridge Hull will ever write, made even more madly successful surrounded by the almost discordant nature of the power riffs surrounding it.

But the approach has its apparent weaknesses. Gone is the variety of Manchester's previous efforts, and not even just in tone. The songs are "paint-by-the-numbers" Hull. Only Manchester Orchestra could make "Cope" sound like it does, but for the first time in the band's history, it feels like almost any band out there could have written the majority of the songs. "Indentions" is sort of like "Simple Math's" stand out track "Apprehension", in both placement and tone, except, you know, smothered in riffs. It's an unfortunate example of uniformity. What made "Simple Math" successful was beneath strings and the brass and the choirs, there was an understated, even tender, emotional center. It might exist in Cope, but its oxygen is cut off by the "brutal head beating" that must occur. You can clearly sense the limitations placed upon Hull in the project, every song must have a massive riff, and an infectious hook, no exceptions.

The most fundamental problem with "Cope" is that of an identity crisis. I don't believe most fell in love will Manchester Orchestra because of their ability to have heavier riffs than their contemporaries. It made their music intensely more dynamic sure, but Hull's greatest strength has always been his ability to express raw, visceral, claustrophobic emotion. A project whose thesis statement is essentially "no ballads" is largely flawed at its core. The band is at its best when it finds that balance. Tossing a whole half of their identity out the window is essentially cheating.

That's probably why I enjoy "Cope" fundamentally more when I tack on Dallas Buyer's Club's "After The Scriptures" as the closing track. Here is Hull, his voice almost quivering, a sole electric guitar powerfully and desperately trying to keep up with Hull's narrative. There is no commitment to hooks, no need to establish any sort of identity or fulfill any sort of concept, and emotionally, it's gut-wrenching. It is Hull's songwriting at its purest, and it is everything missing from "Cope." The album does everything it set out to do, but despite Manchester Orchestra making the loudest album in their catalog, they have never felt so distant.



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user ratings (222)
Chart.
3.6
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
letsgofishing
March 26th 2014



900 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Hi guys,

I wrote a review every 6 months.

Edit--by "wrote" I meant "write". Astonishing piece of commenting there.

SnakeDelilah
March 26th 2014



5415 Comments


with grammar like that I wonder why

Digging: Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited

Calc
March 26th 2014



12024 Comments


zat was fast. never liked this band much though would this change someone's mind?

Digging: Kashiwa Daisuke - April. #02

WhiteNoise
March 26th 2014



3048 Comments


I'll be honest. The softer moments from this band never did much for me, I can see this album being right up my alley.

Digging: Dot Hacker - How's Your Process? (Work)

ABjordanMM
March 26th 2014



1361 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"would this change someone's mind?"

It very well could, to be honest.


ABjordanMM
March 26th 2014



1361 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I really hope the vinyl comes with a lyric sheet. I wanna frickin hear what he says.

letsgofishing
March 26th 2014



900 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good pair of headphones mostly fixed that problem. There is some exceptional lyricism here, as always.

ABjordanMM
March 26th 2014



1361 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

that's good. What i expected.

ABjordanMM
March 26th 2014



1361 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I feel bad for the keyboard player to be honest.

slaythesocialists
March 26th 2014



171 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Album is a serious grower, I was pretty put off by the lack of diversity on first spin, especially after Simple Math. However, on repeated listens you start to pick out some of the subtleties.

Wadlez
March 26th 2014



3824 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Listened to Simple Math a few times. That was enough of this band for me.

ABjordanMM
March 26th 2014



1361 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Simple math was ace though : /

Wadlez
March 26th 2014



3824 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Maybe I'll give it another whirl.

letsgofishing
March 26th 2014



900 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"However, on repeated listens you start to pick out some of the subtleties."

For sure, but I still think the approach was too limiting when it came to Hull's songwriting. A lot of people argued that Simple Math stretched the band too thin, and while I disagree, you can certainly argue that. but whatever the case, I would rather see that ambition than this album's lack of it.



sethdavid
March 27th 2014



34 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

On the first couple listens - it's so repetitious. I'm sure it will grow on me but...dang. Doesn't seem as intimate as Simple Math.

Rowan5215
March 27th 2014



24415 Comments


Great review but I disagree so much
You say Like a Virgin was just another indie album whereas Simple Math was their most emotional but Like a Virgin is absolutely dripping with emotion

AdolfChrist
March 27th 2014



1726 Comments


the last words in this review arent very apt for a 3.5 rating.

ExcentrifugalForz
March 27th 2014



1610 Comments


Your album summary instantly sold me on this record.

Rowan5215
March 27th 2014



24415 Comments


Yeah this is disappointing as fuck though

tommygun
March 27th 2014



23604 Comments


didn't this only come out today way to absorb before reviewing it fellas

Digging: Obliteration - Black Death Horizon



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