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Ambition is great and all that, but without the ability to realise it you’re only going to be left staring sadly at the stars. Manchester Orchestra always threatened to be a truly great band but never quite tipped the balance – ‘I’m Like A Virgin Losing A Child’ and ‘Means Everything To Nothing’ were good but flawed, and their shows sometimes dragged into self-indulgent meandering – so it’s a pleasure to report that ‘Simple Math’ is an unqualified success, the sort of record that will doubtless end up on many end-of-year lists. It’s because they’ve taken the bruised intimacy of their best work and found a musical palette that’s broad enough to make everything blossom: ‘Pale Black Eye’ and ‘Virgin’ are alternately delicate and thickly crushing, and the beautifully vulnerable opener ‘Deer’ shows frontman Andy Hull is at his most potent when he lays himself bare. ‘Apprehension’ and expansive closer ‘Leaky Breaks’, too, tread the boundary between light and shade, and are all the more powerful because they’re always a breath away from total fucking chaos or lullaby-soft crooning. And throughout, the highs are tinged with sadness and the lows with hope, making ‘Simple Math’ a complex and rewarding album that soars above the pack. –avclub
NEW RELEASE OF THE WEEK: MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA’S ‘SIMPLE MATH.’ AVAILABLE ON CD & VINYL!
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