Following up acclaimed debut I’m Like A Virgin Losing A Child was never going to be an easy task for Manchester Orchestra, with the album offering a triumphant mix of heartbreaking sensitivity and all out American rock.
Only three songs in to Mean Everything To Nothing and it’s instantly apparent the band have moved into a much heavier direction; with their boundless live energy captured perfectly. Although first single ‘I’ve Got Friends’ may follow a far too repetitive structure, it will no doubt provide the band with much needed exposure. ‘The Only One’ and ‘Shake It Out’ provide early highlights, both boiling over with unparalleled aggression and urgency. Further on, it’s pleasing to see ‘I Can Feel A Hot One’, a track that first appeared on the band’s Let My Pride Be What’s Left Behind EP, make the cut, still as beautifully melancholic as ever. Elsewhere, tracks such as ‘My Friend Marcus’, ‘Everything To Nothing’ and ‘The River’ all echo the debut’s slower build, with their impact not as instantaneous, but they will almost inevitably become sleeper hits with numerous plays. The one criticism? Well Mean Everything… doesn’t flow quite as effortlessly as you’d expect, with tracks such ‘ Pride’ and ‘In My Teeth’ providing a mid-album lull. However, given the quality of songwriting on display throughout it’s a flaw that can be overlooked.
Whilst it’s far too soon to decide whether Mean Everything… lives up to its predecessor, what is obvious is that Manchester Orchestra have once again crafted a wonderfully individual effort. There is clear progression, with the band sounding more self-assured than in their more timid debut. And as this band becomes more confident in their own abilities you can be sure it will mean their ambition will only broaden. Some will miss the debut’s fragility, but Mean Everything’s sheer force will blow you away.