If you know Manchester Orchestra, you probably know them as the heavy alternative rockers with a similar fan base of ambivalent, angsty teenagers that emo outfits Brand New and Circa Survive have procured over the years. In case you aren’t familiar with their story, check out the expansive feature Steven Hyden did on the band earlier this year.
Since the release of their first full-length I’m Like A Virgin Losing A Child back in 2007, the band has certainly grown in following, scale, and musical maturity, while bringing their ever-loyal fans along for four more LPs in the last 10 years — this coming Friday, they will be sharing a fifth.
But something is a little bit different about this album, A Black Mile To The Surface, than listeners may have been expecting out of band. Manchester Orchestra has decided to entirely revamp their sound by stripping it down to its roots and creating something bare-boned and emotional as hell. Watch a taste of this new sound in their performance of “The Gold” via CBS Saturday Sessions above.
“The Gold” is most definitely a new kind of sound for Manchester Orchestra, but it certainly suits them. In a striking performance, which showcases the chemistry of this group of guys as well as frontman Andy Hull’s ability to confidently yet delicately fill a room with his voice, the band sounds like they are veterans in creating pure, folky tunes. This comfort and confidence in something entirely new is evidently grown out of their ability to channel the raw, emotional performances and songs they have been consistently sharing and creating for years.
This performance is Manchester Orchestra proving to listeners that an ability for storytelling and showcasing honesty and passion in music is rare, but also not exclusive to a certain genre or sound. Artists can shape shift, evolve, and mature while still maintaining the integrity of what made us love them in the first place. In the performance, Hull delightfully bellows out “I believed you were crazy / You believed you loved me,” a lyric that is as simple yet sublime as their newfound sound.