Manchester Orchestra – ‘The Valley of Vision’ album review

Manchester Orchestra The Valley of Vision 2023 album review

Manchester Orchestra follow up 2021’s ‘The Million Masks of God’ with ‘The Valley of Vision’ a 6-song piece that finds Andy Hull and co exploring all-new sounds (this is not a guitar-heavy record) while touching on the powerful and sometimes futile concepts of faith, adulthood and self-redemption…

‘Capital Karma’ opens the album with gentle stabs at the piano, subtle effects and Andy’s personal storytelling: ‘You’re wandering aimless for a while’; ‘All I wanna do is wait here’. With a sound akin to Julien Baker jamming with The Antlers, it’s a poignant piece with hefty emotion as Andy asks ‘Am I losing my patience?’ ‘The Way’ segues seamlessly on from the opener but adds glitchy electronica beats to surround statements about starting again and a plea of ‘God, forgive the Prodigal’. ‘Quietly’ matches its title with its restrained and refined opening about someone not belonging and words about mistrust – ‘You were caught in a lie, I’ve been hiding my age’ – before Wild Pink-esque guitar work adds an anthemic tone.

‘Letting Go’ is another effects-driven and atmospheric piece with distorted vocals and hypnotic, almost meditative delivery of words about holding a knife and being concerned about somebody who needs help – but maybe not from Andy: ‘Suddenly, I’m frozen’. ‘Lose You Again’ takes the record into Frightened Rabbit territory with its synthy alt-folk melodies and heartbreaking lyrics: ‘How do I learn to lose you again?’, ‘I’d find your heart, I’d trace my name’. The closing ‘Rear View’ finds Andy looking back and evaluating past actions but wrapping it up in a narrative about a surgeon ‘facing a panic attack’. He sings ‘I promised I’d give you a mention, I’m afraid this is it it. And all this time, I felt I was right.’ before the final minute descends into a multitude of noise, penetrating screams and frantic drumming.

‘The Valley of Vision’ is a short and sweet record that has clear purpose. All hail Manchester Orchestra once again.


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