Manchester Orchestra’s sophomore album Mean Everything to Nothing is an exhilarating live rock assault chock full of evocatively raw lyrics and heavy guitar driven melodies sung with dramatic punk rock urgency. It’s a loud; in your face album produced in an unrefined bare-bone style that gives the album an authentic live rock band feel.
Manchester Orchestra immediately kicks the album in to high gear with “The Only One”, a blistering 2-minute 39-second opener which sets the energy precedent and flows seamlessly into the dramatic rise and fall of “Shake it Out!”. Another raw urgent rock number that has lead singer Andy Hull emotively barking the chorus of “You Gotta Shake it out! Shake it out! You gotta break it down.” Hulls cathartic shriek is bursting with angst creating an enthralling emotional loud/soft dynamic to the song. The next track, “I’ve Got Friends”, is undoubtedly the catchiest song on the album with a larger than life anthemic orchestration equipped with booming guitar riffs, full band sing-a-longs, melodic piano and a fist pounding chorus “I’ve got Friends in all the right places, I know what they want and I know that they want me to stay!” It’s a killer rock song that is a well-balanced assault with a lyrically beautiful edge.
The pacing of this album is almost ruthless as each and every song bleeds in to one another leaving no time to rest. By the time “I’ve Got Friends” flows in to “Pride” I was a little exhausted. “Pride” is a slow burning number that builds into a rhythmic anthem that I found a little too over the top for my taste. Thankfully, Hull and the band lets up a little bit on the dramatics for the second half of the album starting with “In My Teeth” -- a grunge influenced tune that reminds me of Nirvana at their peak. Another change of pace occurs with “I Can Feel a Hot One”, which is a beautiful song that replaces the guitar assault with piano and cello forcing Andy Hull’s impressive lyrical storytelling ability to the forefront.
Mean Everything to Nothing is a great listen from start to finish. I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child was an amazing debut album, but Manchester Orchestra has managed to produce a sophomore album that is even more expansive in scope and sound than it’s predecessor and reflects a band that has really come in to their own.