It has been three years.
Three years since many fans who once reveled in the emo, alternative, indie rock sound of Manchester Orchestra heard a peep from the band. Some fans may have even forgotten about them altogether during what seemed to be a profound code of silence.
However, the Atlanta-based Manchester Orchestra finally released their fourth studio album "Cope" on April 1.
Despite the long silence, little has changed. While those impatiently waiting for this release may have expected an entirely reinvented, shocking new sound, they were instead graced with the band's signature brand of minimal manipulation and raw lyrics.
In January, they teased fans with a Twitter post saying there were "cool things to come." Then, they released a video for their single, "Top Notch," later that month, thus confirming their new album.
Manchester Orchestra is known for melancholy, occasionally brash lyrics that mix with either an equally melancholy or contrastingly garage rock feel. While their preceding album, "Simple Math," demonstrated the band's experimental side, "Cope" is them coming back to the sound that made them. Confirming this, vocalist Andy Hull stated that "we wanted to make the kind of album that's missing at this time in rock: something that's just brutal and pounding you over the head every track" in an interview with Fit4Talent.
"Top Notch" sets the stage for the rest of the album as Hull sings, "There's two twin deaf kids / And they've gotta make / An ungodly decision / They decide which one gets to leave this place / And which one will forsake it / To make it."
Morbid, philosophical and not completely understandable are the marks of a Manchester Orchestra song. Despite the grim words, it is refreshing to hear a band sing about anything other than sex, drugs, parties or a broken heart. Instead, Hull's words verge on a taunt for the listener, asking if they are willing to think about them.
And though interviews have yet to confirm speculation, "Cope" appears to be a progression of just what the title says: coping. Starting with the bleak mutterings of a soul without much hope, the album eventually concludes with the title track where, while the sound is still that of heavy, unbending rock, a sense of acceptance appears.
The lines, "Now I hope if there is one thing that we know / From the way that you and I will wander on / And we won't become a lifeless lope that wanders 'round and hopes for sorrow," depict a change in sentiment. The song still evokes thought and dark imagery, it is with a light at the end of tunnel, asking that the listener stop, drop everything and evaluate whatever concern the song has brought forth.
In an industry where auto-tune, behind-the-scenes songwriters and an unquenchable need for capital drives the musical ambitions of many, Manchester Orchestra's willingness to go back to the sound of a home studio and honest yet undecipherable lyrics is a breath of fresh air.