Manchester Orchestra’s latest has a great album cover. It is a haunting picture of a young woman crouching over a television in maybe a hotel, wearing what could be a wedding dress or an embroidered slip. Her face has a very apprehensive look about it. Not quite fear, but uncomfortable at the least. If only the album would create as much emotion as the cover art.
Unfortunately it doesn’t. Not that the album isn’t good. Musically, it is very well-done. The problem is Manchester Orchestra is a very young band with an average age under 20 and their youth shows through. Andy Hull has yet to learn how to convey his feelings through his voice instead of just his lyrics. When he sings “I can feel your pain,” it seems more like he understands it, but doesn’t reciprocate.
Manchester is starting to create a buzz around them, playing the important South by Southwest Festival and appearing on David Letterman early this month. This is important for them to succeed, as hopefully with experience their strong live performances will translate into the studio. If this happens, the follow-up album to Virgin promises to be their breakthrough.
All of the songs on the album are very easy to listen to, well-written and composed, and pretty much the same song. What’s lacking are the hooks. Manchester is a melodic rock group, somewhat like the Vines on lithium, and Virgin plays great in the background without intruding. You may not want to dance, your friends won’t ask you who’s playing, but you won’t want your money back.