album reviews

Manchester Orchestra
I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child
Favorite Gentlemen (2007)

The members of Manchester Orchestra actually hail from Atlanta. Not only that, there's nothing stereotypically Mancunian about the band's music. Instead, the quintet sounds as if it was weaned on the American indie/emo rock of the late 1990s and early 2000s, which is not terribly surprising, given that songwriter-guitarist Andy Hull is barely beyond high school age (and, in fact, dropped out of school to devote more time to his music).

Hull et al. channel the better moments of those recent influences: "I Can Barely Breathe" has an anguished Bright Eyes feel, while the polished "The Neighborhood Is Bleeding" is reminiscent of Death Cab for Cutie. Those outwardly angsty moments might pack an immediate punch, but Hull is at his most emotive on the album's mellower tracks. The murmured, minimalist "I Can Feel Your Pain" is breathtaking, mostly due to its fragility, particularly Hull's wavering hum and his whispered "Hallelujah."

Above a droning keyboard on "Sleeper 1972," Hull sings of a family's reactions to the father's passing. It's not clear whether the song is autobiographical, but either way, Hull's tenderness and the heavenly harmonies that surround him convey a remarkably mature compassion that belies his youth and relatively short musical history.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 26 October 2007, Page WE07
.: I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child on