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Manchester Orchestra – Mean Everything To Nothing (2009)

May 22, 2009


Manchester Orchestra did some amazing work on their debut LP, I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child, and it looked like they had the potential to make a completely solid modern emo album but instead it looks like Andy Hull used up all his good ideas in his solo work and their EPs and they just can’t keep up the quality. The kids might eat this up though and this is a tricky album to review. I like this band. Or perhaps I did. The thing is, there is not really that much bad stuff on Mean Everything to Nothing but really, they could have done so much fucking better. It starts off pretty good with “The Only One’”, which mixes their alt-country indie sound with some pop punk hooks and decent lyrics. And throughout the whole album you can feel the energy but it seems like they let ‘being really angry and yelling a lot’ get in the way of writing good songs.

“Shake it Out” could be a great pop rock song if they didn’t push it past its use by date and feel the need to do needless rock jams (this goes for the whole album really). When Andy is shouting furiously and you’re feeling angsty then this album is magic. This band can do angst extremely well when they think about. “100 Dollars” goes for less than two minutes, starts off quiet and erupts into a cathartic wall of guitar with Andy screaming “I am fine/I am fine/I just need 100 dollars” like a goddamn madman. It’s a rare moment of rawness and quality song writing that this album needs more of.

This album is enjoyable enough, it’s just frustrating that the band didn’t live up to the potential they clearly have. You can catch it in sections of songs and occasionally they manage to hold it together for an entire track. “I Can Feel a Hot One” is one of the best songs they have ever written, with layered guitar and a heartbreaking string section with devastating lyrics to match. Too bad they already released this on an EP last year. “Tony The Tiger” has a great palm muted riff and interesting melodies but doesn’t really offer any kind of connection.

The title track an the closing track “The River”, see the band pulling out all the guitar tricks they know. There are big hooks, climatic moments of pure of emotion and the whole ‘quiet and then loud’ formula and it works well, but this isn’t a band that should be jamming on power chords and guitar pedals as they don’t quite nail it. They should have strived to create well structured, emotional pop songs. Oh well, maybe they pull off the crunchy guitar a lot better live and to be fair it does go pretty well with all the yelling. I just can’t help but feel this album would be nothing to me if I wasn’t such a fan of their previous work. Or maybe I’m just being really harsh because my expectations were really high… (It’s not bad guys)

Mean Everything to Nothing (2009)
Official Myspace (Full Album Streaming)

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    May 23, 2009 7:55 am

    You’ve got to be kidding me! This album is brillant.

    Do you really know all the guitar tricks this band knows to say with credibility they pulled them all out?

    I like the band too but this album kicks it and captures their live performance vibe and energy.

  2. Alexandra permalink
    May 23, 2009 11:23 am

    Man, you left an anonymous comment.
    You’re not really one to be questioning credibility.

  3. George permalink
    May 23, 2009 12:59 pm

    My bad, never been to this site before. In an effort of remedy, I will leave a first name like you and the author.

    Nick is entitled to his opinion but when he speaks as an authority on people’s capabilities he either has to have some incredibly intimate knowledge or he speaks of things he does not know as if he knows, which would make the rest of his statements less believable. He may be right about the pulling out all the guitar tricks. I don’t know and I’m guessing he doesn’t either.

  4. Nick permalink*
    May 23, 2009 2:27 pm

    It’s a turn of phrase.

    Also I’m betting these songs turn out a lot better live than on here, will let you know when I see them in a few months.

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