Atlanta-based indie-rockers Manchester Orchestra have established the fact that there is a place for them in the music scene with their both soothing and rocking ballads, but the time has come for them to put their foot down and determine what it is they’re trying to blossom into. Their third studio album, Simple Math, gets incredibly personal lyrically (a diary of singer/songwriter Andy Hull’s young wobbly marriage) and is generally pleasing to the ear, but the album may not be as epic as it was hypothesized to be.
The first track, “Deer,” immediately becomes personal when Hull addresses his listeners: “Dear everyone I ever really knew/I acted like an asshole so I could keep my edge on you.” It’s a much softer, melancholy song than many other tracks on the record.
“Mighty,” the album’s second track, switches the sound up quickly with low riffs and some chugga-chuggas, before Hull’s louder, belting vocals and the band’s entire ensemble chime in.
When Hull screams in songs like “April Fool” he provides the expected epic emotional vocals, and when he says “I wish I loved you like I used to” at the end of “Pale Black Eye” (the beginning is nothing to write home about), everything starts to fall on top of each other: His howl becomes more and more dramatic and then the orchestra kicks in to boot.
“Simple Math” is the released single with an accompanying music video (which Hull admits to not even understanding all the ideas behind the video) and features the cooing, more welcoming version of Hull’s voice: “Simple math, believe me, all is brilliant/What if we’ve been trying to kill the noise and silence?”
Simple Math will get played many times over and will probably get thrown into Pitchfork’s Top Whatevers of Whatever of 2011. The record is enjoyable. Not epic; enjoyable.