5 Out of 5 for Simple Math

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Manchester Orchestra Once Again Bring the Heat

By Emily Hopkins

“Simple Math”

(Sony Music Entertainment)

5 out of 5 stars

Indie rock darlings Manchester Orchestra once again bring the heat on the band’s latest album, “Simple Math,” released May 10.

Like its predecessors, “Simple Math” is an epic music explosion, a journey of pulsating guitars and driving drums. Frontman Andy Hull takes things one step further on this, the third full-length record. It’s a concept album of sorts, an introspection that takes the listener deep into Hull’s brain and emotions.

“Pensacola,” the third (and undoubtedly the breakout) track, shows a glimpse of Hull’s personal life. The song talks of his isolation, of being with “alcohol, dirty malls, Pensacola, Florida bars” when he should be at home with his family and his baby daughter. The song may be upbeat, with Hull’s vocals taking us for a musically joyful ride, but a close listen to the lyrics reveals the pain underneath.

The fourth song, “April Fool,” is the band’s first single off the new record. One of the strongest tracks on the album, it’s laden with the insane guitar rifts that have become characteristic of the band. Hull’s desperation encompasses the listener as he sings of forgiveness and redemption and letting go of the past.

“Virgin,” the sixth, track, is hauntingly beautiful straight from the beginning. Featuring a chorus of ghost-like singers, including children, it could easily be the lead song in an indie horror flick. There’s an eery realization that “it’s never gonna be the same,” as the creepy voices sing, backed up by dark, low guitars and a heavy brass ensemble.

Dedicated Manchester Orchestra fans, and newcomers alike, won’t be let down by “Simple Math.” The record is already garnering great critical acclaim, many stating that it’s the Atlanta band’s best effort yet. It’s musically superb, but the dark, personal nature of the lyrics puts it over the top. The effect is an emotional journey of epic proportions, one that rightfully should be deemed one of the best indie rock albums of the year.

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