Most won’t have ever given much thought to the simple word ‘cope’. Manchester Orchestra have. ‘Cope’ explores every avenue of meaning it possesses, the simple power of one word best epitomised by the succinct branding of this album. Always lyrically strong, Atlanta’s finest have stepped up their game with this album finalising a journey of struggles with life, death and everything in-between spanning four studio albums in the simple realisation that all we can really do, is cope.
While one glance at the acoustic sets in ‘Cope’’s accompanying video series ‘Magic Moments’ is enough to prove that frontman Andy Hull’s lyrics are no less heartfelt than 2011’s ‘Simple Math’ the sound is worlds apart. With ‘Simple Math’ Manchester Orchestra clearly targeted the heart with a subdued, delicate sound – this year they pick us up of the floor, relentlessly beat us over the head with unyielding rock anthems and spit us out, gasping for more. This an album from a Manchester Orchestra that know what they want, and what they want is to belt out everything they’ve got with an aggression greater than that of any previous outing. A brave move from a band who’s most popular tracks are on the quieter side of their range, but one that absolutely doesn’t disappoint.
While sophomore album ‘Mean Everything To Nothing’ was no stranger to a shout and a thrash of a guitar, it never quite cut loose like ‘Cope’. Out of nowhere, opener ‘Top Notch’ announces its presence with a powerful blast of dirty chords, letting up only briefly for synth ridden interludes in ‘Girl Harbor’ and ‘Indentions’. ‘Cope’ races on towards its swelling and dissipating title-track closer, ending the album as abruptly and powerfully as it begun.
Recorded in a studio built by the band themselves, free of time constraints and input from producers or labels, ‘Cope’ is the most quint-essentially Manchester Orchestra album to date. Improving with every listen, Hulls self-identified gap in the modern rock scene reflects a perfect understanding between all involved that this is a black and white rock album but still somehow manages to provide so much more. A fantastic effort from a band that quite simply can do no wrong.