Manchester Orchestra

Mean Everything to Nothing

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Atlanta's Andy Hull and company received considerable praise leading up to Mean Everything to Nothing, Manchester Orchestra's second official full-length release. With that praise and hype came the attention of producer Joe Chiccarelli (the Shins/My Morning Jacket), who adds enough muscle, sound, and fury to the music to match Hull's frequent growls and rants. The resulting dynamic attack will likely please the screamo crowd, as songs like "Shake It Out" feature the kind of angsty lyrics (fighting the Lord), yelping Isaac Brock meets nu-metal swagger, and power chords that thrill a young audience. More savvy, or at least older, music fans will be able to pick out the influences instantly: from the Kurt Cobain wail and Nirvana-like grunge pop of "In My Teeth," to the Smashing Pumpkins by way of Jane's Addiction guitars of the catchy but somewhat overly earnest "I've Got Friends," to the wounded-voice Bright Eyes aping of "The River," to the all-out, nearly embarrassing Neutral Milk Hotel ripoff that is "100 Dollars," which should see Hull mailing a royalty check to Jeff Mangum. From the voice-breaking delivery to the atonal guitar shards, the song should basically come with a copyright disclaimer. Mean Everything to Nothing doesn't know what kind of album it wants to be, and that's either charming/eclectic or annoying/amateurish, depending on an individual listener's sensibilities. The constant shifting from jangling alt-country to grunge to indie eclecticism gets tiring over multiple listens. Mean Everything to Nothing has its moments and shows Hull to be a decent enough songwriter, but there's ultimately too much outright mimicry on display and not enough originality for it to have any longevity.

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