Review Summary: I think I talk to you best when I sing.Mean Everything To Nothing
is one of those rare records which can be encapsulated through the quoting of any one of a handful of its most potent lyrical triumphs, each of them effortlessly meaningful and passionate to the point that it surrounds and captures the essence of the record in a heartbeat. What did you mean when you said, "It's destructive," and you sank yourself right into me?
Manchester Orchestra frontman Andy Hull is an uncertain but undeniably spirited character, finding silver linings on the most foreboding of clouds, and really, Mean Everything To Nothing
loses itself in the storm, windswept and dramatic from the very first bar.
That dizzying effect doesn't come from an overload of coinciding musical ideas, but from the breathtaking execution of the intense and gritty rock texture that only previously and tentatively bared its teeth on tracks like 'Wolves At Night'. Mean Everything To Nothing
is a more poised affair, the work of a band comfortable that the tempo they find on each track is the right one for saying what they need to say, from the poignant and tender 'I Can Feel A Hot One' through to the frenetic opener 'The Only One' and even on the downbeat and positively menacing
'You, My Pride & Me'. The sound is one of confidence in Hull and his ability to enthrall, and the faith is entirely justified.
Never has a man sounded at once so in control of his emotions and so utterly derailed as Hull appears on Mean Everything To Nothing
. He approaches themes of terrifying magnitude with the most fragile of conversations, asserting on 'My Friend Marcus' that "it's funny how many don't know, how many of us don't have homes," and if you would expect the weight of such a soundbite to overshadow the aesthetic of those around it, think again: every track here is filled with that same dark and searching exploration of a scared but vital human psyche, not least the album's centrepiece and (amazingly) standout track 'I Can Feel A Hot One', which crushes more with every passing line.
But that, in a nutshell, is Mean Everything To Nothing
. Each moment of momentous and frankly epic brilliance stacks on top of the last until closer 'The River' builds from uncertainty to desperation in a tour-de-force of the record's - not to mention band's - defining qualities: the cutting guitars, the piercing atmosphere, the unnerving introspection. It all comes together to form a strained and violent whole which kicks out at its tormentors at the same time as holding its loved ones very, very close indeed. In the end, though, what makes it so utterly superb is how human it all is; the way that Andy Hull and the rest of Manchester Orchestra swing wildly between disquiet and conviction is at every juncture both awe-inspiring and strangely intimate, and that's how records like this can mean everything.