Manchester Orchestra's 2011effort Simple Math is an epic, would-be concept album revolving around lead singer/songwriter Andy Hull's life to date. Which, essentially, consists of the time Hull -- in his twenties as the time of release -- has spent with his band, which he started in high school. It's clear from the melancholy lead-off track, "Deer," that Hull is angry, depressed, and regretful over most everything in his life. He sings, "Dear everyone I ever really knew, I acted like an asshole so I could keep my edge on you. Ended up abusing even those I thought immune. I killed the kingdom with one move and now it's time to move." The self-reflection and general tone of pyhrric release-turned-rock star empowerment continues throughout much of the album with such muscular, sludge rock numbers as "Mighty," and the fiery, ragingly melodic "April Fool" being particularly catchy and moving numbers. In that sense, the album brings to mind similar works by such artists as the Queens of the Stone Age, Tool, and, as on cuts like the new wave-esque "Pensacola," a slightly more robust take on Death Cab for Cutie's yearning pop. Conceptual conceits aside, Simple Math is a fairly passionate and rocking affair filled with sprawling, if still tightly wound anthemic pop.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar