While there are some ties that bind Manchester Orchestra’s albums together – the vivid lyricism, the unmistakable three-part harmonies and the urgent guitar work – they all differ significantly enough to demonstrate not only the band’s progression, but its efforts to not make an album that merely mimics its predecessor.
This is a band that sets out to create something thematically driven, sharply dynamic and singularly distinctive in its music. With Cope, Manchester Orchestra are officially four from four. In the time since 2011’s Simple Math, frontman Andy Hull has continued to draw acute observations on faith, family, friendship, and both the things that bring people together and the things that will, in time, tear them apart. It’s set to a heavier background, with guitarist Robert McDowell going for a punchier and more abrasive tone in his playing, as well as drummer Tim Very – who makes his debut as an official member here – keeping the pace up with some stick-breaking precision and heavy-handedness. “I don’t want to believe,” confesses Hull on the pun-tastic ‘Girl Harbor’, before adding: “But I want to believe you.”
On Cope, you will have your faith questioned, but ultimately restored.
Cope is out now on Loma Vista/Caroline.