I don’t exactly remember when my love affair with Manchester Orchestra began, only that it burned very bright at the start and has continued to produce light and heat ever since. Lead singer/songwriter Andy Hull’s brand of brooding, trembling indie rock has always struck a chord with me. Each of the band’s first two albums — 2006’s I’m Like A Virgin Losing A Child and 2009’s Mean Everything to Nothing — produced at least three tracks that served me well as windows-down, freeway-cruising singalongs. The kind where you stop caring what the drivers who pull up next to you will think when they see you drumming on the steering wheel and singing loud enough that your facial expressions look like you could be in pain.
So the long, slow march to the May 10 release of Manchester Orchestra’s third full-length Simple Math (three singles before the release date!?) has me on pins and needles. The first two tastes we got of the band’s latest LP felt familiar but also branched a bit from its previous output. Title track and first single “Simple Math” gave us some wonderful dramatic buildup, with echoing guitars and orchestral swells, and the loud, beautiful rock payoff. “April Fool” sounded somewhat like “The Neighborhood Is Bleeding” and “Now That You’re Home” from the band’s debut album.
And now, this past week, MO premiered “Virgin,” a Pink Floyd-esque construction that includes children’s choirs and creepy background voices and sounds like a kind of zombie-rock anthem — a march to arms, with chunky guitars and Hull’s quivering vocal. It’s a song that feels more alive the more one listens to it. It breathes slowly at the outset, fills its lungs completely to shout in the middle, and then exhales ominously at its conclusion. Fantastic.
I’ve always been a sucker for Manchester Orchestra, and I’m excited for Simple Math, to be released on the band’s label Favorite Gentlemen via Sony. Check out all three singles below.