Cope and Hope

Manchester Orchestra (Just a band of a few dudes)

Last night, I fell asleep listening to Manchester Orchestra’s latest LP, Hope. I then woke up at 3am, because my mind was spinning a hundred miles an hour. I’m suprised by my own reaction to it, It’s the same album as Cope, their LP from earlier this year, but every song is re-imagined differently, softer and more acoustically. Cope was heavy, perhaps too much so and many fault it for not really have any “breathing room”, but this is where I think Hope comes back with a second swipe of the audible paintbrush to paint a larger picture.

Earlier this year, the first impressions I heard from others about Cope was that it was either hit or miss, you either like it or you don’t. Many of my peers thought it was one of MO’s weaker albums, but I was in the small camp that enjoyed it. I’m a rocker at heart and enjoyed the heaviness, but after chewing on it lyrically for a couple months I now know why I loved it so much and why I think Hope adds to this.

♫ All that I know, it’s no way to fix it. ♫

I don’t listen to music the same way I used to. Gone are the days of putting on catchy ambiance and bouncing along to the beat. Such things are trivial now. When my head is stuck on something, when my emotions are spinning wheels and not going anywhere I need something that acts like a forceps. Where I can forcefully rip it out this emotional parasite and throw it against the wall. I may examine it to better understand myself. Perhaps a nod to Nietzsche’s Übermensch, I look at the beauty and pain and attempt to revel in both.

♫ I hope you don’t choke on that last passive word that you keep in your throat. ♫

Cope was probably to too specific for many. The array of songs all feel as if they’re directed to a small group of people. People currently in the middle of an exhausting, anguishing pain. Almost as if the private room between your ears had the volume up to 11 and the tension holding everything together was as taut as piano wire. It evokes a feeling akin to the struggle of drowning, the feeble attempt at reaching out to grab onto anything that’s there, whatever it may be. The desperate cry for something, the painful shout to everything or anything that would warrant a response. From little boys, us guys are practically indoctrinated with this undefined concept of manliness that ends up resulting in more emotionally distant, sociopathic stubbornness than anything else. This almost perpetuates things, the sigh and gasp turn into a grunt and scream. The glassy eyes close, the teeth clench, the veins swell. Because of this, sometimes we may end up doing more things we regret as a response or coping mechanism than whatever even got us into this mess.

♫ And I hope if there is one thing I let go it is the way that we cope. ♫

In comes Hope, it’s actually quite funny in a way. It’s literally the exact same album. Same songs, but only with a different “feeling”, but in a way, I think that is the point. Facts don’t change in your life, only how you feel about them. It’s amazing how your current mood can alter your perception of a memory. That’s the problem with coping, it’s a futile struggle to change some things you are powerless over. So laying in my bed with the room in complete darkness I pressed play on my my phone as it immediately lit up the room like a flare just went off. Seconds passed as the room slowly returned to pitch black darkness.

The echoing piano that carry many of the songs drip a calm and peaceful nostalgic feeling like water out of a rung out rag. I can’t exactly work out in the gym to this album though. Many of the songs have a feeling as if your taking a walk down memory lane, even though Cope came out earlier this year, it feels like it has been much longer. The ominous backing vocals have a Gothic, or cathedral feeling. A meditative, calming reevaluation. I suddenly notice lyrical differences as I sing along slowly to “Trees”. The shoe is now on the other foot. I’s have been swapped with you’s and vice versa. Verbs have been swapped, colors have been altered. This album now begins to to convey subtle differences that are painting a much larger picture. This album now feels like a lens to view the last LP, “Cope” through. A fresh perspective, but one that doesn’t handcuff itself to anger and frustration, one of a calming, letting go.

As much as I love to spurt out Nietzsche’s “Hope is Evil” rhetoric, there are times when it feels like Hope is just what the doctor ordered. Sometime’s it’s the one thing keeping you going. As if this train is finally at the end of the tunnel and you can finally begin to feel the warmth of the sun again. First there’s pain, then you Cope, then there’s Hope.