Four albums in and Manchester Orchestra’s ‘Cope’ continues their rise to the top of the alternative rock scene. Hitting number 13 on its week of release in the US Billboard 200, ‘Cope’ has also been a huge success across Europe, with sell-out shows at London’s Scala and an autumn tour culminating in a show at Shepherds Bush Empire already booked in. A critical and commercial success story, thanks in no small part to Manchester Orchestra’s hard work ethic and constant touring schedule, ‘Cope’ is already widely being hailed as one of the best rock albums of the year…
Throughout their career, the Atlanta band have never messed about and the opening track ‘Top Notch’ seems to be a statement of intent – this album is going to be heavy on riffs and brutally loud, picking up exactly where 2011’s ‘Simple Math’ left off. Self-produced by the band alongside their friend Dan Hannon, this is exactly the album Manchester Orchestra wanted to make – therefore it’s boasting with a brashness and confidence that can only come with years of experience and a very definitive idea of where your band is going. An album full of three-and-a-half minute singles, nowhere is this more present than on ‘Every Stone’ – a song that has a very melancholic side in the lyrics, but these are expertly played out against guitar work that is spectacularly vibrant. The repeated lines of ‘Every stone I’ve thrown has gone away’ over gently evolving instrumentation is one of the record’s stand-out moments.
In fact, much of the subject matter appears to be based around loneliness, companionship or self-observation. ‘Girl Harbor’ is a song which opens with the statement ‘You always talk so loud and you never notice’, before, amidst a force of commanding chords, Andy Hull sings in his inimitable style ‘I wanna believe you’, before yelping out ‘You waste so much time’. With a clear traditional rock influence, there are also some tracks which wouldn’t feel out of place in the so-called ‘emo revival’ scene. Very bass-led, ‘The Mansion’ is a powerful piece that manages to discuss religion without preaching or being over-zealous, while the essentially hopeful ‘Trees’ contains the album’s defining message: ‘I want to believe’.
Although it took a few listens to get into, ‘Cope’ is an album full of big songs that can be returned to again and again – and it’s clear they are destined to be played in huge venues. Only 38 minutes long, so you won’t get bored, ‘Cope’ shows why rock and roll will never die.