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Album Review: Manchester Orchestra – Mean Everything To Nothing

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Mean Everything To Nothing, Manchester Orchestra’s sophomore effort, is the album that will be remembered for launching Manchester Orchestra into the mainstream. The band’s past album, I’m Like A Virgin Losing A Child, focuses on teenage angst, with Andy Hull’s narratives acting as the driving force. On Mean Everything To Nothing, the angst is retained with an added overall band dynamic. The result is a sound that’s best described as emo-rock. With hard driving guitars and pounding drums (two kits at the band’s live shows) backing Hull’s pain-laden narratives, Manchester Orchestra has found the “Golden Ticket” into the mainstream.

After the wind-up of “The Only One”, it’s obvious the band’s sound has changed. By the third track and first single, “I’ve Got Friends”, it’s a welcomed change that remains consistent throughout the entire record. Upon hearing the record for the first time, a few months before it’s release, it was difficult to pick out which tracks would be singles. Quite frankly, nine of the tracks are radio and TV ready. All 11 tracks, on the already grandiose Mean Everything To Nothing, will have a video release. This seems like a presumptuous move for Hull and company, which is currently on Act V of XI in the video series with “In My Teeth”.

Mean Everything To Nothing flows seamlessly through the first five tracks and by the sixth, “100 Dollars”, listeners are given a bit of a break. The song acts as a perfect interlude, segueing into the last half of the album with “I Can Feel A Hot One” (originally released on the EP Let My Pride Be What’s Left Behind), “My Friend Marcus”, and the title track “Everything To Nothing”. On first listen, closing track “The River” seemed to be epic clocking in at 11:34 minutes. However, it’s a two part song with a silent interlude between parts. For fans of Manchester Orchestra’s original sound, the second part sounds a little closer to the band’s debut.

After tallying over 400 total spins from the 11, hugely accessible tracks, I am obviously biased. With that said, take this as a brief overview and by all means interpret the remainder of the album away. However, fitting in one last opinion, Mean Everything To Nothing is the definitive Manchester Orchestra album and warrants at least one listen-through.

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