Manchester Orchestra is an American indie rock band based in Georgia. They comprise of rhythm guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Andy Hull, lead guitarist Robert McDowell, keyboardist and percussionist Chris Freeman, bassist Jonathan Corley, and drummer Tim Very.
The band have lead an extensive career spanning almost a decade, in that time they have released two studio albums, a studio album which was never officially released, and an extortionate amount of EPs. Simple Math is their third official studio album, and has been gaining a lot of attention in recent months.
The album begins with Deer, a track which introduces the additions of string arrangements to Manchester Orchestra’s sound, it adds a touch of the nineties to the record where alternative rock was swelled with talent such as Modest Mouse, Death Cab For Cutie and Smashing Pumpkins. There is a lot of emotion displayed in this track, notably from the strings and from Andy Hull’s voice; it bore a sense of depression about the song, which gave the album a rather moving beginning.
Deer produced questions as to where the indie rock genre was located in a Manchester Orchestra record, and the answer was quickly shoved in my face with following track Mighty. Which begun with a gritty, dirty solid power chord which was allowed to ring out and declare that it had entered the room. It’s a decent track but is littered with riffs stolen from the previously mentioned genre of alternative rock in the nineties, and the use of strings has created a very grand occasion instead of a simple indie rock song.
Infact, the band’s genre of indie rock seems to be misplaced because Simple Math does not sound like an indie rock record. Indie rock is a genre that encapsulates bands that are a lot more down-to-earth and sing about relatable topics on top of simple trebled to the max instrumentation. This record sounds very grand, the instrumentation is loud and well produced enough for its home to be a cathedral, the vocals and lyrics are very aspirational in that they sound as if the band is very wealthy and not entirely independent at all.
The addition of string arrangements on this record also sounds like a forced addition; they don’t really add anything to the tracks apart from Deer, but merely sit on top of them. Manchester Orchestra has seemingly placed the strings there for the sake of sounding emotional, which ruins the album for any emotions that could connect with it.