A band that changes lineups nine times in ten years usually has trouble maintaining success. However, Manchester Orchestra has seemed to defy odds with a strong discography, resulting in a confident following. Singer songwriter Andy Hall, over the past decade, has been able to create a sonic soundscape to house both his meaningful lyrics and the way in which they are conveyed. Their latest release Hope is a more stripped-down, emotionally-driven start to finish cover of their April 1st release Cope.
While the band’s overall approach to a more emotionally driven version of an originally high powered work of music, the outcome falls well short of any sort of expectation. To start, Hope is an excruciating test of Andy Hall’s vocals, meaning there is no substantial work of instrumentation that is dynamic enough to stand out amongst his voice. Minor/major scales are recycled with little manipulation, the vocals not excluded. In a work as slow and melodic, you would at least expect a smooth transition from song to song, which is not the case. Percussion could have helped album however through desperate listening there was nothing of the sort. In short, all Hope does is diminish the artistic credibility of Cope by magnifying the simplicity of every song’s arrangement.
It’s easy to be critical of a cover album when it’s a work of music originally created by the band covering it, but also because the original, Cope, is very strong in its own right. Nowadays, few bands can capture a guitar sound so heavy without unconsciously being labeled wannabe 90’s rockers; Cope really stands out as a breath of fresh air. Whatever emotions Manchester Orchestra tried to convey in Hope, is superseded by the feelings gotten from Cope. No band in any genre should be forced to recycle a sound that has given them success just because the fans listening are too stubborn to change. However, Manchester Orchestra’s latest attempt at something slower, lighter, and “more emotional”, lacked enough substance to be considered, in any way, substantial.