fan of what I've heard from these guys even though I own nothing
slightly disappointed with this, but still tied for highest of the month
love the live clip. I'm a sucker for a choir.

Grade - 1.9

released May 10th, 2011

from the album - Virgin - 2.5

from all music


As led by singer/songwriter/guitarist Andy Hull, the maturity of Manchester Orchestra's songwriting belied the fact that the bandmembers were barely legal when their group sprung into existence. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, the indie rock outfit grew out of songs that Hull had begun writing while attending high school. Encouraged by positive response, he opted for home schooling during his senior year, which afforded him enough time to compose and record in the studio. Friends began collaborating with him over time, and Manchester Orchestra soon solidified into a trio comprised of Hull, bassist Jonathan Corley, and drummer Jeremiah Edmond.

Hull's songwriting noticeably progressed with the addition of his friends, and the band courted its first fans with an EP release. You Brainstorm, I Brainstorm, But Brilliance Needs a Good Editor thus appeared in 2005 through the band's own label, Favorite Gentlemen Recordings. With the EP out, Manchester Orchestra began playing shows around the Southeast and added keyboardist Chris Freeman to the mix. Buzz about the band's music began creating a stir beyond the Atlanta city limits, and the guys were invited to play slots at the South by Southwest and Lollapalooza festivals in 2006 before beginning to work on their full-length album that summer. The resulting I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child was issued by the year's end, offering up a poignant collection of memorable hooks and thoughtful narratives that showcased a similar style to acts like the Weakerthans and Death Cab for Cutie.

Eventually, studio intern turned guitarist Robert McDowell joined the lineup permanently, and as a steady buzz continued to grow -- especially on Internet blogs -- Manchester Orchestra snagged an opening spot on Brand New's largely sold-out tour in spring 2007. The increased exposure caught the interest of Canvasback Recordings, which reissued the band's debut album that summer. A second EP, Let My Pride Be What's Left Behind, followed in October 2008, and the band remained in the studio during the subsequent months to perfect its sophomore album. Released in 2009, Mean Everything to Nothing found the band working alongside producer Joe Chiccarelli, famous for his work with the Shins and My Morning Jacket. In 2011, the band released its third full-length studio album, Simple Math, a concept album built around Hull's life story.

Album Review

Manchester Orchestra's 2011effort Simple Math is an epic, would-be concept album revolving around lead singer/songwriter Andy Hull's life to date. Which, essentially, consists of the time Hull -- in his twenties as the time of release -- has spent with his band, which he started in high school. It's clear from the melancholy lead-off track, "Deer," that Hull is angry, depressed, and regretful over most everything in his life. He sings, "Dear everyone I ever really knew, I acted like an asshole so I could keep my edge on you. Ended up abusing even those I thought immune. I killed the kingdom with one move and now it's time to move." The self-reflection and general tone of pyhrric release-turned-rock star empowerment continues throughout much of the album with such muscular, sludge rock numbers as "Mighty," and the fiery, ragingly melodic "April Fool" being particularly catchy and moving numbers. In that sense, the album brings to mind similar works by such artists as the Queens of the Stone Age, Tool, and, as on cuts like the new wave-esque "Pensacola," a slightly more robust take on Death Cab for Cutie's yearning pop. Conceptual conceits aside, Simple Math is a fairly passionate and rocking affair filled with sprawling, if still tightly wound anthemic pop.

Track Listing

1 Deer Manchester Orchestra 3:17
2 Mighty Manchester Orchestra 3:39
3 Pensacola Manchester Orchestra 3:36
4 April Fool Manchester Orchestra 4:21
5 Pale Black Eye Manchester Orchestra 4:17
6 Virgin Manchester Orchestra 4:28
7 Simple Math Manchester Orchestra 5:05
8 Leave It Alone Manchester Orchestra 4:06
9 Apprehension Manchester Orchestra 4:34
10 Leaky Breaks Manchester Orchestra 7:14