Atlanta’s Manchester Orchestra get some big-time distribution for their debut LP, I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child. Released last year on their Favorite Gentleman Recordings, MO go wide in 2007, thanks to a deal with Sony’s Canvasback label. And now the emotional indie-rock of singer/guitarist Andy Hull & co. on I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child looks set to reach a much larger audience.
The record opens on the title-setting first single, “Wolves At Night”, whose slightly plodding start belies the piece’s later explosion into a true ‘band anthem’. I’m Like features a lot of tempo changes, both within songs and between songs, going from hard rock to quiet folk. A few numbers contain perhaps a bit too many stops and starts, like the slamming “Now That You’re Home” and the small/big “Alice and Interiors” (a shorter version of the track off the 2005 EP, You Brainstorm, I Brainstorm, But Brilliance Needs a Good Editor). But then there are the epic, rocking, sad-but-strong “I Can Barely Breathe” and the crashing, touching “Golden Ticket”, who do the stop/start right. Both are aided by excellent, far away-and-echoing background vocals from keyboardist Robert McDowell.
Hull also delves into slow, stripped-down, singer/songwriter alt-folk on pieces like “I Can Feel Your Pain”. While “Pain” is straight-up melancholy, the following “Where Have You Been?” is more heart-rending, and gets sharper in the middle before going expansive. And though penultimate track “Don’t Let Them See You Cry” is short and world-weary, the nearly six minute-long finale, “Colly Strings”, meanders and reverberates, then goes big and grand in its last third.
Atlanta-area indie-rock has really risen in prominence over the past year (almost imitating the rise in ‘Hotlanta’ hip-hop), thanks to bands like Kings of Leon and Snowden, and Manchester Orchestra look set to fit right in. While I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child makes a few too many pit stops along its way, these sons of the South are certainly getting there.