Standard Black 2LP-Set with Etching on Side D
Manchester Orchestra has always prided themselves on their approach. The Atlanta-based band, led by singer/lyricist Andy Hull with Robert McDowell, had spent their career challenging each other to build a poignant, exhilarating narrative with each new album and EP. Since the beginning, each subsequent Manchester Orchestra album has been a grand statement for that specific moment in their career, originated in a desire to push themselves forward creatively. For a band on record number five and seeking innovation, how do you untangle yourself from the past? How do you write songs about being happy?
Describing a rock record as "cinematic" usually implies a double-length, sprawling album with a full orchestra on every song; Manchester Orchestra's A Black Mile to the Surface is cinematic in that it conjures worlds. There's magical surrealism at work, with songs about a boy with no ears ("The Alien") and the father/sleeping child callback of "The Sunshine." There's a story to parse here – three brothers, an abandoned wife and child, a mysterious journey through the depths of a miles-deep mine, a narrative of twists and turns, recurring characters, alternating timelines – but the songs and melodies stand on their own.
A Black Mile to the Surface is a bold record of vision and purpose, inspired by and dwelling in a sensory and imaginative experience. It's a reinvention of sorts, both musically and personally – a sort of cosmic worldview shift. But in the end, the record's themes are universal. On the stunning final track, Hull sings, "Let me watch you as close as a memory / Let me hold you above all the misery / Let me open my eyes and be glad that I got here." Certainly, that's a new father speaking hope to his daughter, but it's also a message to listeners. How do you write songs about being happy? With your eyes wide open, your loved ones in front of you, and the misery of the world waiting just outside the door.
Standard black 2LP-set with etching on side D, single jacket packaging (but double wide spine) and download card. Also available as deluxe colored 180g 2LP-set with etching on side D, gatefold packaging, 12" x 24" insert and download card.