Up and coming Manchester Orchestra has made significant strides since its 2006 debut, “I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child.” The April 21 release of “Mean Everything to Nothing” is a denser exploration of the path the band paved for itself four years ago. Dynamic in its attempt to not be portrayed as solely a hard rock album, the Southern-tinged lyrics of lead singer Andy Hull carry the album in bringing the melodies everywhere you expect and want them to go.
Surprisingly catchy but genuine in its organic sound, “Mean Everything to Nothing” is a union of raw emotion and traditional American rock. Although reminiscent of Band of Horses or an amped up Sufjan Stevens, Manchester Orchestra makes this album its own by not trying to succumb to any associations. Instead, the CD contains all the necessary components of a traditional rock album – emotional energy in its most honest form. The natural ups and downs are brought about by riffs that reveal catchiness only as a byproduct of the album’s sincerity.
Despite its labeled genre, “Mean Everything to Nothing” is by no means a happy-go-lucky “indie-pop” album, but refrains from drowning in misery. While songs like the mellow “Jimmy, He Whispers” are a bit dismal, harder tracks like “I’ve Got Friends” transform the sadness into a captivating intensity that’s far from redundant despair. “Shake it Out” brings the listener on an emotional rollercoaster, from its anthem of a chorus to the abrupt midway shift from hard-rock wailing to whisper-soft reflection.
Manchester Orchestra is all about growth in its purest form, and grow they will as “Mean Everything to Nothing” has certainly made something out of what they have – which wasn’t much given their last album. The band proved itself further in the QU community when it headlined this year’s WQAQ spring concert, which drew a crowd exceeding 400 fans. The show, like Manchester Orchestra’s “Mean Everything to Nothing,” was a success which left listeners satisfied with what they got, but confident with the growth that will inevitably take place.