The best artists evolve. Those with longevity learn to lean into other genres, other styles, and other emotions. On The Valley Of Vision, we have Manchester Orchestra as you’ve never heard them before and yet somehow it is exactly how you imagined them to be.
Accompanied by an awe-inspiring film that immerses viewers in 180 degrees of virtual reality, this six-track EP that follows up where 2021′s The Million Masks Of God left off, Andy Hull and Co take us on a magical twenty-five-minute journey through our souls and out again.
An evolution from its predominantly guitar-driven past, the band almost completely abandons the instruments it is used to, for example, there’s absolutely zero ‘shake it out’ heavy guitar riffs or slamming bass. It sounds like a completely different band but it also sounds like Manchester Orchestra.
Opening with ‘Capital Karma’ a song that feels so sparse yet so rich. The writing of Andy Hull has always driven me towards this band and this is his finest work to date. A song about love and loss, about despair and religion, with haunting vocals (Caroline Swon from Brother Bird adds her beautiful voice to the chorus) the song is a prayer. It is rich, and the almost choir-like ending had the hairs standing up on my neck. ‘All I want to do is wait for you’ simple yet magical. It could be comfortably read or sung in church (which it actually will be when the band play London’s Union Chapel in May)
‘Capital Karma’ follows directly into ‘The Way’ this song is another beautiful, magical piece of writing. The song builds and climbs, it is ethereal, it should be listened to in the dark, eyes closed, and let the music consume you. I promise you’ll get completely lost in it. Try to avoid singing or a the very least humming along, it will be impossible. This is the way.
‘Quietly’ is just that, to begin with, a quiet mantra, a call of arms, then three minutes in the song takes off and sounds like an offspring from the bands A Black Mile To The Surface album. The musicianship on the record is off the scale, and each band member has the chance to shine at various points. ‘I just sat there quietly, hear all your demands’ is pretty much what I did through the song
‘Letting Go’ follows and has wonderful Sufjan Stevens vibes. The vocals again are the shining star for me, there’s a wonderful range that flows through the track, another song about love and about the haunting realisation of losing that love. It questions religion and the afterlife yet also feels so very uplifting. I love the distortion throughout the song too. ‘Lose You Again’ is more of a straight-up love song, about learning how to love and how to lose, holding your partner until the water dries is such a powerful image.
The process of writing for this collection of songs began when Hull was looking through his suitcase for his lyric notebook, but instead found a 1975 book of Puritan prayers called The Valley of Vision, which his mom had gifted to him the previous Christmas. The religious connotations are fluent throughout and bring an air of mystery to each second, you feel the need to explore, learn, and discover.
Closing the EP is ‘Rear View,’ lyrically it refers back to the final track from The Million Masks Of God (listen to this song and then the song ‘The Internet’ and you’ll hear what I mean) creating the most beautiful music you could wish to hear. I don’t know where Manchester Orchestra plans to go, but I cannot wait to find out what they write and record next. The Valley Of Vision is a truly remarkable piece of work, treasure it and allow it to save you time and time again.
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