For Fans Of
Fans of Manchester Orchestra‘s last effort ‘Mean Everything to Nothing‘ will notice that their third studio album ‘Simple Math‘ is something completely different, but will also appreciate it for the brilliance that it is. So basically don’t expect the same record again, but expect the next step in the band’s evolution, one of high quality. The record is a little less on the rock side and more of the emotive, softer feel, with a sense of maturity and refinement.
Opening track Deer, brings out the intricacies in front man, Andy Hull‘s voice, over a slow acoustic ballad the eases along with a floating ambience. Things take a drastic turn with Mighty, a song that is opened with a big dirty rock riff that makes what I said about this album being softer seem like total crap. The song travels along quite slowly with a rolling beat, but that big rock riff makes for the toughest sounding moment of the record, especially when the orchestration kicks in. Another, slightly less intense, rock moment is April Fool, a track that will sit comfortably in heavy rotation on a Triple M playlist and for that reason one of the few less impressive tracks of the album.
Following this the record hits it’s high point with some of the finest songs of the group’s career, Pale Black Eye, is a quirky, smooth and sexy number followed by the choir filled Virgin, and the finest point of the record, the title track. Simple Math features guitars that wash over a beautiful string arrangement like a giant wave with Hull’s doubled up vocal melodies wrestling with the instrumentation to see which one should be paid attention to the most. It’s hard to come back from this track making the remainder of the album seem a little bit below par.
The record ends with Leaky Brakes, which takes its influences from Modest Mouse and seems like a track that would have been better placed in the middle of the record than as the closer.
‘Simple Math’ is not flawless, and arguments can be held as to where it sits in the ‘best to worst’ order of the band’s catalogue. It seems like one of those albums that people will recognise as good upon the first listen but will eventually, years down the track, realise that it is actually brilliant and one of their finest releases.
4. April Fool
5. Pale Black Eye
7. Simple Math
8. Leave It Alone