Dive into deep and nostalgic sounds with Manchester Orchestra’s newest album.
Manchester Orchestra’s sixth studio album, The Million Masks of God, is an emotional ride filled with stellar vocals and lyrics. The band brings back the sound of rock anthems from the 2000s with their newest album. In the middle of writing and constructing this album, the Atlanta-based band was struck with heartbreaking news. Lead guitarist and backing vocalist of the band Robert McDowell’s father had passed away, and suddenly the album had new meaning. The Million Masks of God deals with life, death and most importantly, family. The sound of the album perfectly aligns the feeling of nostalgia and a grasp towards the future.
If you’re a fan of the very particular rock sound of the 2000s, you’ll hear it from the very beginning of this album. The songs are filled with that (now old school) rock flair, a sound reminiscent of Arcade Fire, The Killers and Kings of Leon. The album is tied together with the voices of children and the feeling of pain, but learning how to deal. This is probably due to the fact that the band was formed in 2004, of course, but it’s great to hear that sound again.
For someone who grew up listening to it, it’s very comforting to hear. The album opens with “Inaudible,” which starts with multiple voices singing together before a slow drum beat begins to play. The slowness of the drum and deep sound are almost hypnotic, pulling the listener in. The lyrics are telling: “you’re mumbling, ‘afterlife, some wasted light’ and the notion you’ll never be free.”
This song blends into the next, “Angel of Death.” The voice of lead singer Alex Hull is heard loud and clear on this track. The song slows up as it plays out, and the sound continues to combine an old rock beat with an underlying synth. The album takes a turn with the next song, “Keel Timing,” which has a much faster beat than the first two. The lyrics, “and it wasn’t right, but it wasn’t wrong, it was holy,” are an incredible display of Hull’s vocal ability and great to sing along to (or try to at least, if you can keep up).
Speaking of vocal ability, listeners haven’t heard anything yet until they’ve heard the single off the album, “Bed Head.” The lyrics and vocals on this song stand out on this album. While singing the lyrics, “now I believe in the ghost,” Hull shows off his skills, elongating the note more and more each time. It seems to be about the different aspects of death and how difficult it is to deal with.
In an interview with Scenestr, McDowell said that he found himself, “in conversations with people who had gone through similar or at least grief and loss and all that, and I think at the bottom of it all, if [the album] can be helpful for anyone then that’s all we can really ask for with music.” This track does exactly that, and the band should be proud of how good it turned out.
Towards the middle of the album, listeners get “Annie,” which takes a folksy turn that is a bit different from the rest of the album. The song trades in heavy drum beats for the twang of an acoustic guitar, creating a sweet, wholesome sound. Almost like a crackle of a campfire, or a song that plays on the long drive home—it fits perfectly. There’s a female voice on this track, adding a duet-like element that blends well.
As the album comes to a close, “Dinosaur” has a huge build-up before exploding into a burst of drums, electric guitar and bass as the lyrics “over and over” repeat throughout. The folksy sound comes back with “Way Back,” but in a much sadder way. The melancholy continues in the final song, “The Internet.” It starts off slow and small before growing into a huge release of sound that leaves the album with a bang.
The Million Masks of God has the quality of an old soul, filled with the right amount of nostalgia to keep remembering and the right amount of distinctness to keep people listening. It features fantastic vocals and a great story to tell—one of pain and acceptance.