(Favorite Gentlemen Records)
Beginning in classic Manchester Orchestra understated style with the beautifully simple ‘Deer’, ‘Simple Math’ grinds into heavier territories with the next track, fittingly titled ‘Mighty’. Andy Hull’s ever-emotional vocals are layered on top of pulsating jagged-edged riffs and interspersed with soaring orchestral arrangements, all the while backed up by some lush drum textures. The orchestral element is a recurring theme throughout the record yet it never sounds overblown or forced. The textures are woven expertly within the band’s alternately lilting and crunching rock backbone.
The first half of the record builds to a central focal point in the masterful track ‘Virgin’ which also goes so far as to feature a children’s choir and interjections from a brass section. There really is only one word to describe this song – epic. But far from being the pinnacle of the album, MO proceed on to the heartbreaking title track of the record ‘Simple Math’. Again, we are treated to the extremes of loud and soft as can only be communicated by this band. Hull’s haunting vocal leads on this one although it certainly has a lot of immensely carefully placed instrumental back-up. The eerily quiet start to ‘Leave It Alone’ is again contrasted with the introduction of lush strings later in the track and this album of intense light and shade ends on the gently meandering ‘Leaky Breaks’ which stands at a massive 7 minutes long and fades out into nothing thus completing the circle of ‘Simple Math’. Stream it all here.