Album Review: Manchester Orchestra, Cope

“We wanted to make the kind of album that’s missing at this time in rock: something that’s just brutal and pounding you over the head every track.” Andy Hull is right in suggesting that there was a clear focus in the creation of Cope, a quality which some felt was missing from MO’s last release, Simple Math. It’s also true that Cope falls on the harder side of things, guitar driven and mostly unrelenting. Unfortunately, this sharp vision for the album appears to have also been the album’s downfall, leaving little room for ideas to grow.

Opener and single ‘Top Notch’ gives a fairly accurate foreshadowing of the record to come; palm-muted verses sit against powerful, swirling choruses as Manchester Orchestra’s brand of melancholic indie-rock is given an energetic kick into 2014. The mid-tempo feel doesn’t let up much throughout the record, though, which largely contributes to Cope’s monotony, with ‘The Ocean’’s repetition proving tedious. Meanwhile, ‘Every Stone’ is an album highlight and not the only point on the album to feel evocative of a rougher-sounding Jimmy Eat World. The album closes with the title track which gets as close to gritty as this release comes, showing potential that was frustratingly forgotten on earlier songs.

There’s nothing bad about the album, and Manchester Orchestra remain one of the pillars of their genre – but with a record that tends to blend into itself, it’s unlikely that Cope will have much lasting value.

[Hannah Westwater]

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