Across their four albums, Manchester Orchestra have travelled from emo darlings to crunchy rock stalwarts. Last album ‘COPE’ was a powerhouse that saw the band at their most straight-forward and riff-heavy. Its follow-up, ‘A Black Mile To The Surface’, is infinitely more fiddly, and takes the band closer to the indie rock of The National or The Shins than the Brand New they grew up alongside.
Andy Hull’s voice is as affecting as ever across the record, and the band shoot for the stars more than ever before on ‘The Moth’, the record’s soaring highlight. ‘The Grocery’ is also a hard-hitter in parts, but when ‘A Black Mile To The Surface’ slows down, Manchester Orchestra finally hit that sweet spot between solo tracks from Hull and crushing full-band epics that they never quite bridged until now. It’s largely helped by Tim Very’s stunning drumming, proving as adept with worming his way round the kit to an acoustic-led cut as he is when he’s nearly ripping the skins off.
The band balance loud and quiet better than ever on LP5, with the one-two of ‘The Maze’ and first single ‘The Gold’ that opens the record the perfect example. ‘The Alien’, meanwhile, is fiddly and intriguing, showing that ‘A Black Mile To The Surface’ could transport the band to an entirely new world. From this showing, they’d fit perfectly.