Thursday, May 7, 2009

Review: 'Mean Everything to Nothing' by Manchester Orchestra for Tom Magazine



Mean Everything to Nothing (Favourite Gentlemen/ Sony)

Manchester Orchestra (read; an indie-rock quartet from Atlanta) ask all the big life questions on their sophomore album. Mean Everything to Nothing deals mainly with religion and crises of faith, through a rollercoaster of musical influences and styles. Manchester Orchestra’s versatility and development really shows on this record as sweet intros melt into powerful choruses, and Andy Hull’s almost whispered vocals turn into wonderfully executed screams. The band’s preoccupation with religion may begin to grate some listeners, but there is enough here to make sure they aren’t lumped as ‘Christian rock’ - namely, angsty questions of faith, and a wider musical appeal.

The lead single, ‘I’ve Got Friends’ is fun and biting southern-rock, with a killer chorus and just the right amount of venom, as Hull sings, "I’ve got friends in all the right places/ I know what they want and I know they don’t want me to stay". The title track is emotive as Hull sings "I don’t know much but a crutch is a crutch/ If it’s holding you from moving on", as this time around, they focus on putting, and losing faith in individual people. ‘Shake It Out’ is a sure-fire winner, fusing teenage angst and catchy hooks - possibly the world’s most popular combination. Darker moments on the record seem to channel Nirvana, as in the gritty, ‘Pride’ which uses repetition to effect through heartbreaking verses like, "What a dead head/ I think I’m dying/ I think I’m dying for another one".

This is definitely a stronger effort than their first release, showing maturity while managing not to completely remake their original style. Fans should be pleased, and newcomers who appreciate any component of their Modest Mouse meets Nirvana, meets Jesus, meets Dashboard Confessional mash-up should be won over.

(Anna Angel)

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