Manchester Orchestra are a band in which each member has a number of different musical projects going on, yet together, they are always able to maintain their widely-established signature sound, which is ever-present in this record. Described by frontman Andy Hull as being “unrelenting and unapologetically heavy”, Cope is the band’s fourth studio album, and the first recorded in their recently-completed home studio. Also self-produced and released on their own label, Favorite Gentlemen, it’s no exaggeration to say that the band have really come into their own as musicians.
The record opens with ‘Top Notch’, which was released in January alongside the announcement of the album. The song is very straightforward, with bursts of energy that build up a fire in your stomach, fuelled by the song and the song alone. Drummer Tim Very incorporates explosive drums that stand very much at the forefront of the track, which has a sense of familiarity to it; it’s in tone with previous releases from the band, yet it’s still new and exciting, and definitely one to look forward to in upcoming live shows.
‘The Mansion’ truly sounds like the classic Manchester Orchestra we all know and love. With pacing drum beats, distant backing vocals and bellowing crescendos, this is one that long-time fans will instantly feel drawn towards, at times sounding similar to tracks from the band’s Simple Math era.
Andy Hull’s voice takes on aquatic properties in ‘The Ocean’, coming forward with crashing waves of sound and emotion before retreating, dragging itself back and leaving the listener standing in it’s wake, awaiting its return. The song mimics the ocean, building up from calm waters to a storm that crashes around the musicians, before it ends by slowly ebbing away.
While we wouldn’t particularly call ‘See It Again’ the ballad of the record, it is definitely the most heart-wrenching. Hull serves as a narrator on the longest song on the record, which quickly goes from simple music and storytelling to monolithic, crashing sounds as he repeatedly tells you “I’m never gonna see it again”. At one point during the guitar solo, you’ll swear you can hear his screaming, or is that some instrumentation you’re just hearing strangely? Either way, the song uses changes in pace and pitch to have you digging deep and thinking of those things you thought you’d pushed far enough away to forget.
The record ends with the title track, ‘Cope’. A slower song, which may seem a little odd to end on, but it sums up the record into one, cohesive track. “And I hope that there is one thing that I let go/It is the way that we cope”. The track is everything you love about Manchester Orchestra already, and it is what you will love for in the future. A perfect end to a classic record.
Cope is very much a Manchester Orchestra record, through and through. While the band say it is just 38 minutes of rock, it is so much more than that. They have got to the point where they know exactly what they want to make and the fans know exactly what to expect, and nobody is left disappointed. Cope is out on 1st April, but this record is no joke.
Be sure to check out our exclusive interview with Andy Hull here!