Here's an interesting exercise in music criticism: Minimize Spotify, iTunes, Soundcloud, etc. - whichever application enables you to listen to the album - and evaluate, on a scale of 1 to 10, how easily you are able to mark where one song ends and where another begins. 10 would be the standard I expect of albums (distinct ending and beginning), and 1 would be the longest song in the world.
I'm regretful - yet not altogether surprised, having seen the darling Georgians in concert at Next Big Thing - to say that Manchester Orchestra is kissing the ankles of this scale with 2014's Cope. Acknowledging that the band falls short in this department is necessary, and easy. It's a fact that stares you right in the face, and tends to resonate with you regardless of any future efforts to enjoy the album.
A continuity that keeps you engaged is a nonnegotiable ingredient in a good album, so just that I arrive at the title track (number 11) without feeling as if I've heard an entire album is not something I can forgive simply. Manchester Orchestra's style is not one that evokes diversity.
As I say, I've seen the band live and I am certain they have a very dependable fan base, but that is because it is composed of individuals who outwardly prefer a mellow, continuous guitar set to permanent overdrive, with vocals of a slow groove. And if Manchester Orchestra intends to adhere to that nature, then there's got to be something in it for the rest of us. Otherwise, listening is a labor, and for that reason I acknowledge that this review isn't much of a review. The sluggish sameness of Cope proves somehow exhausting and undoubtedly disappointing. My words are trite in every sense, but my conclusion is a harsh truth centered on the idea that Cope is an exemplary album, if you're into that sort of thing.
* * *
* * *
***** Can you marry a thing that's not a person?
**** Silver medals are still cool.
*** Nobody's perfect.
** Its mom still loves it.
* No. Just, no.