Manchester Orchestra’s new album ‘Simple Math’ hits shelves May 10

Screenshot from title song Simple Math‘s lyrical video.

 

Manchester Orchestra’s latest full-length album Simple Math is regarded by several critics, including myself, as their best yet.

 
Although the official release date is May 10th, you can listen to the full album on their website, so long as you solve a math puzzle. If you’re crafty enough, there are ways to download it for free, but this is an album for which you won’t regret spending the money.

 
This concept album, an album unified by a central theme, focuses on frontman Andy Hull’s “reaction to (his) marital, physical and mental failures.” Simple Math is the result of Hull’s “(putting) his life back together,” symbolized by the geometric shapes featured on the album cover, website and puzzle.

 
Each song is packed with emotional lyrics and singing, with a symphony of powerful music backing it including actual orchestral instruments like horns and violins.

 
The album kicks off with Deer, arguably the most emotional-sounding song on the album. Its acoustic, angelic sound is accompanied by lyrics like “There’s nothing in these wooden drawers to bring you back… I don’t know what to do with me no more…” You can hear Hull’s pain through his voice in all songs, but especially this one.

 
Fourth on the LP is April Fool, a song pre-released by the band for promotional purposes. It sounds akin to MO’s previous albums, featuring loud guitars and even louder singing, the first one the album to do so. Hull’s lyric screaming is a definite hook and is what I like about MO. The song slows down in the middle and end, showing the band’s range and musical talent to tie in slow-paced emotion with passionate, high energy playing.

 
Song number six, Virgin, is the last of three pre-released tracks, and my personal favorite. “It’s a tri-fold story that parallels three ‘firsts’ for me. The loss of my virginity, the potential loss of relationship, and the realization that our band has and will change after our first album. To all of these issues, the same lyric applies: It’s never gonna be the same,”  Hull said on the Manchester Orchestra website.

 
The song starts slow, with ghostly guitars and a slowly building beat, followed up with heavy chords during the chorus. The chorus sounds like he has many people behind him singing as well. And if it couldn’t get any creepier, a small choir of children sings the chorus near the end of the track.

 
Immediately following Virgin is Simple Math, another of my favorites. The first pre-released song, MO fans got a taste of the new album when this was generously given to the public Feb. 28. Hull’s vocals start off at whisper-volume, but steadily increase with the music as he reaches the chorus. After the chorus, the music and vocals go straight back down and go through the same evolution as the first verse, this time with symphonic instruments backing in addition to the band. The music turns into a loud, melodious piece and takes its throne as the integral track of the entire album. If you only have time for one song, make it this one.

 
The album’s final three songs slow down quite a bit, featuring even more emotional lyrics about friends, hardships and endurance. “The lyrics are so evolved compared to where we began. It’s all here and ready to be confronted. It’s up to me now,” Hull said on the website.

 
All in all, this album exhibits how the band has matured since their last album, both musically and lyrically. Once you begin the album, it’s nearly impossible to stop, and one that is definitely worth the money. This is a band that puts so much time, effort and feeling into every song, they deserve every penny.

 

By ROBERT PARKER