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When Do I Get to See the Sailboat? Red on the New Manchester Orchestra Album

Posted by June 2nd, 2011 No Comments »

Manchester Orchestra
Simple Math
By Greg “Red” Lehman 

I adore Manchester Orchestra and am in to Simple Math, but I just don’t think I’m seeing the full picture.

How many more listens before I fully understand and appreciate this album, the Atlanta band’s fourth?

I think the answer is “an endless number, if at all.”

There aren’t really any standout tracks to serve as handy reference points either, though title track was released as a single.

This isn’t surprising, though. Simple Math is a concept album about a man dealing with a failed marriage, disappointment, abandonment, God and a whole lot of other really uplifting topics and, as such, it is meant to be listened to as a whole.

I’m in awe of this recording nonetheless. The layering, the subtle musical nuances and the brilliant mind of wordsmith Andy Hull are just perfect.

Perhaps I’m not fully connecting with this record because it’s a bit of a dark comedy. And dark comedies have never been my bag. (I never know when to laugh and when I do, it usually ends up being the part where people are supposed to be sad.)

Or maybe Simple Math represents a whole new level of mature songwriting that I am too pubescent to entirely understand. It’s like I’m gazing intently at one of those 3D posters. All of the other reviewers are seeing the “sailboat/schooner” and I’m just getting the edges.

Never mind though, the edges are glorious. The only thing I can even come close to comparing Simple Math to is Pink Floyd’s The Wall (“Virgin”) or My Chemical Romance’s Black Parade (“Pensacola”), but less whiny and more honest. High praise, but deserved.

So please buy this album and listen to it on many different types of music equipment as you can, then tell me what you hear.

By car, by stereo, by computer and by headphones and with as our witness, together we’ll see that goddamned sailboat! – (8/10)

Manchester Orchestra play Seattle’s Showbox Sodo June 9.

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