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07.25.17 Top 15 Manchester Orchestra Songs07.17.17 Sowing goes XXX
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Top 15 Manchester Orchestra Songs

With accompanying explanations. List includes A Black Mile to the Surface.
15Manchester Orchestra

"Girl Harbor" - One of the few songs good enough to overcome Cope's over-simplification. This is the song I always find myself humming from the album, it's a solid rock track with an irresistible hook.
14Manchester Orchestra
I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child

"Sleeper 1972" - The still, glass-like production is downright beautiful. The hushed vocals really make Hull's typically affecting words even more impactful. The delivery almost reminds me of Jimmy Eat World, which is of course a good thing.
13Manchester Orchestra
Mean Everything to Nothing

"Shake It Out" - This is the first Manchester Orchestra track I heard. The screams/shouts on this are perfect, and the "Are you tired of being alone" line just struck the right chord at the time. One of their best heavy songs.
12Manchester Orchestra
A Black Mile to the Surface

"The Wolf" - The way this swells towards its epic, uplifting chorus is among the most natural sounding progressions the band has ever crafted.
11Manchester Orchestra
Simple Math

"Pale Black Eye" - I envy Hull's raw, honest lyrics on this one. The emotion when he screams "goddamn, I'm tired of lying - I wish I love you like I used to" is chill-inducing. One of Simple Math's underrated gems.
10Manchester Orchestra
Simple Math

"Virgin" - The opposite of "Pale Black Eye" in that this is all epic posturing for the sake of it. There's everything here: crucifying fires, blood, a creepy children's choir...yep, "Virgin" has it all. Despite the fact that it feels like an unchecked grab for all things over-the-top, it's still downright glorious and a top-10 MO track.
9Manchester Orchestra
A Black Mile to the Surface

"The Silence" - Clocking in over 7 minutes, this album closer is everything Leaky Breaks (see Simple Math's final track) tried to be but wasn't. This is smooth, and builds naturally to an emotional pinnacle in which Andy Hull shouts "There is nothing you keep, there is only your reflection" - a rather existential resolution that ties together a lot of the album's themes about identity and death. That's it's followed up by a minutes-long breakdown of crashing drums and electric guitars (and Hull's echoed, fading cries) ranks this as perhaps the most organically epic song in MO's discography.
8Manchester Orchestra
Mean Everything to Nothing

"I've Got Friends" - While most people site "Shake It Off" as the popularly accessible cut from this record, "I've Got Friends" is actually the easiest song to get into from the record. The chorus is impossible not to sing/shout along to, and there is a delicate balance between heavier verses and sugary-sweet melody. If someone were looking for one song that represented all of the band's greatest strengths, this might be what I offer them. The piano that pokes its head out of the background during the chorus is a stroke of genius.
7Manchester Orchestra
A Black Mile to the Surface

"Lead, SD" - The best song from the new record. Driven by a schizophrenic-sounding synthesizer, it also captures some of Hull's best lyrical contributions and comes tantalizingly close to erupting into "Mean Everything to Nothing"-styled screams during the chorus ("There's nothing in the wind, just white up to the trees / and it's been that way for eternity"), but refrains. The whole record is the least strained I've ever heard MO sound, and that moderation is on display here - every twist and turn is smooth and effortless. It sounds like the emotion of the band's earliest material filtered through the glossy production of Simple Math.
6Manchester Orchestra
Mean Everything to Nothing

"The River" - The cracks in Hull's voice when he desperately sings "Oh my God, let me see again" are unlike any other moment in the band's entire catalog. The whole thing feels like a revival of sorts, as the listener is washed over with waves of heavy guitars but the purity of the graceful piano notes drive the experience. I'm still unsure whether this is a ballad or a rocker, but it's beautiful, inspiring, and one of the absolute greatest accomplishments of Manchester Orchestra's career.
5Manchester Orchestra
Simple Math

"Mighty" - From the moment this song kicks off, you just know it's not going to be denied. The whole thing is sweeping and majestic, from the thunderous drums to the orchestral strings that dance around them, and Hull sounds as determined as ever during pretty much every single verse. Lines like "I'm finding out that there's actually a purpose" lend a sense of enlightenment which stands in stark contrast to the demons lurking within: "Your body's asleep in a wheelchair, I'll start rolling you down toward the cars." The drum fill and burgeoning strings that follow just might be the best instrumental moment in Manchester Orchestra's history. It was during this song that I first knew Simple Math was going to be a classic.
4Manchester Orchestra
Mean Everything to Nothing

"I Can Feel a Hot One" - A truly cathartic track that practically reduces me to tears each time. It's all about the lyrics, even though it possesses an unforgettable melody and emotions so heavy they'll weigh you down. "I took it like a grown man crying on the pavement" is the first verse that really hits home [for me at least], but it's not until the end when you realize what Hull is singing about that the puzzle really comes together and you just feel bad for the guy. Excerpts like “I could tell it was over, from the curtains that hung from your neck…I realized that then you were perfect” and "To pray for what I thought were angels, ended up being ambulance / the Lord showed me dreams of my daughter, she was crying inside your stomach…and I felt love again." Gahh. This is so powerful I'm getting misty just typing about it. Moving on.
3Manchester Orchestra
I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child

"I Can Barely Breathe" - I've always felt as though this sounds like a rough draft of the Brand New song "Sowing Season" - after all, it follows an almost identical guitar progression, just with sparser production. It pains me to admit this, but this is a actually a much better song. Hull's vocals pack a more meaningful punch, especially when he graces us with lines like "if you knew I was dying would it change you?" and "if seeing is believing, then believe that we have lost our eyes." There's an eerie, almost apocalyptic feel to this (""come on, come on, its the end of the world"), and the play on words are brilliant ("when I fly solo, I fly so high"). This song set the tone for Manchester Orchestra's identity.
2Manchester Orchestra
I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child

"Colly Strings" - Painstakingly personal, this song is romantic and heartbreaking at the same time. Easily my favorite MO acoustic track/ballad, even over "Hot One." It might have something to do with the way it erupts in the second half of the song, exploding into this euphoric revelation "you can't believe, without bleeding." But even better moments reside in Hull's shyly mumbled verses, these little gems that are all too relatable: "Confessingly, this is the first time I've loved you. And God I mean, God I mean it...I hope that I mean it." It's so damn personal without ever even bordering on cliches. "Don't stop calling, you're the reason I love losing sleep" is another personal favorite. Everything about this track, for me, captures the romanticism yet the vulnerability of being in a relationship. It's perfect.
1Manchester Orchestra
Simple Math

"Simple Math" - A masterpiece. The song rises and falls in epic fashion, a perfect storm of all the band's greatest assets. It commands us to ponder the very purpose of our existence: "What if I was wrong and no one cared to mention / What if it was true and all we thought was right was wrong?" Hull could be raising a number of different points here, from the insistence that we, as human beings, have a tendency to trust what generations of science have told us to be true. But what if our perceptions, down to the very inch, are wrong? There is no way of knowing, and the very notion of that possible instability in our society’s foundation is earth-shattering. To be blunt, it's the kind of thing that makes your head spin when you are laying in bed at night. Simple Math is deeper and more insightful than many people are probably even aware of, and careful inspection of Andy Hull’s lyrics give them a timeless factor, one that quite frankly cannot be perceived as anything less than art.
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