Review by Dom Vigil
With a constant stream of music being released and thrown at consumers every single day, and with new albums available at our fingertips almost instantly thanks to iTunes, Spotify, Pandora and the like, it’s hard enough for bands to write an album powerful enough to stick with listeners for more than a few months, if even that. Throughout the past year, I can count on one hand the number of albums that I’ve been able to listen to again and again without getting sick of them or being distracted by something shiny and new. Manchester Orchestra’s Hope, however, is definitely an album that will stick.
When Manchester Orchestra released Hope’s predecessor, Cope, back in 2013, I found myself thinking that the band had created an absolute masterpiece - that there was nothing they could have done differently to make the album any better. That was obviously before I heard Hope, though. While many artists seemed to fall into the trend of releasing acoustic albums this year (pop-punk acts such as The Story So Far and State Champs are the first that come to mind) many of these albums seemed to fall flat. It’s hard, after all, to be able to re-record the same songs all over again and transfer the same amount of energy, emotion and passion the second time around, especially into acoustic tracks. Hope doesn’t fall short on the emotional spectrum, though. In fact, the raw beauty and emotion in Andy Hull’s voice is easily the best part about Hope.
The vocals throughout the entire record are considerably more emotionally charged this time around, especially on standout tracks such as, “Girl Harbor,” “The Ocean,” and “Every Stone.” While Cope is strong in its own aspects, its as if you can really feel what Hull is singing about this time around - it’s as if Manchester Orchestra was meant to write acoustic music.
It may sound like I’m gushing a bit, but it’s hard to find one single flaw on Hope. The acoustic guitar is beautiful and the harmonies are perfectly haunting and on-point, especially on “All That I Really Wanted.” The added string section and orchestral elements to some of the tracks, especially the jaw-dropping “Every Stone” are a perfect choice. In fact, “Every Stone” has easily become my favorite track on Hope, which I found interesting because it hadn’t been my first choice on Cope. However, this time around, the song has become a beautiful, emotional ballad compared to the upbeat, fast-paced original version. It’s actually quite difficult to believe that they’re the same song when listening to them back to back, though I’d definitely recommend doing so, because it showcases Manchester Orchestra’s incredible talent.
For an acoustic version of an album, Hope is incredibly full sounding compared to the original. This record, while raw and stripped down is absolutely fulfilling. If you’re looking for a simple rehashed version of Cope, then you’ve come to the wrong place, because Hope is so much more than that. The two records, while both strong in their own aspects, are barely even comparable. Hope is an absolute masterpiece - Manchester Orchestra have pulled off something that many bands only wish that they could achieve and they’ve made it sound easy.
Listen to "Every Stone"