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Album Review

Manchester Orchestra, 'Mean Everything To Nothing'

April 20, 2009
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Indie Rock
Manchester Orchestra Mean Everything To Nothing
Sony
ESSENTIAL "I've Got Friends"
Manchester Orchestra plays at the Middle East Downstairs on April 30.

Manchester Orchestra is not, as its name might suggest, some Tony Wilson-produced, post-punk collaboration featuring Happy Mondays, Oasis, and the Smiths. Rather, it's an Atlanta-based indie-rock quintet that sounds like a cross between Dashboard Confessional and something that came out of Seattle's grunge scene. Their sophomore record is like a sonic form of whiplash: lullaby-like intros progress into fist-pumping choruses, pensive piano arrangements are followed by gritty guitar riffs, and frontman Andy Hull's vocals shift from folksy Conor Oberst-like warbling on power ballads ("I Can Feel a Hot One") to breathless emo-wailing on anthems like "I've Got Friends." Similar contrasts appear in the album's lyricism: After Hull sings "I am the only son of a preacher I know/ Who does the things I do" in the opening lines of the speedy title track, subject matter then runs the gamut from religious redemption ("The River") to not-so-holy mentions of drug habits ("One Hundred Dollars"). The unabashed emotion in their all-out approach will surely appeal to fans of raw yet sentimental Southern rock, Weezer and Modest Mouse followers, and angst-ridden teens. (Out tomorrow)

LINDSAY TALBOT