Mean Everything to Nothing
Manchester Orchestra’s second release, Mean Everything to Nothing, features explosive and earnest songs that use classic loud/soft dynamics and dramatic tempo shifts to create a driving intensity that rarely lets up. The first half of the album is particularly aggressive and loud, with sharp guitar riffs and waves of keyboards punctuated by bursts of angst, as if the band needed to spew some vitriol just to properly warm up. The emotional urgency of the vocals and the heavy, often bitter lyrics that fill these coming-of-age songs work because the band knows just when to release the tension, like following up the grungy, melodramatic “Pride” with the taut, Nirvana-inspired “In My Teeth.” They also know how to write a mean hook. The album shows their range especially in anthems like “I’ve Got Friends,” the raw “100 Dollars,” and full-blown throat-shredding power ballads like “I Can Feel a Hot One,” “My Friend Marcus,” and the title cut. Mean Everything to Nothing rocks out with such urgency and devotion that you have to admire the band’s ambition and sincerity and their commitment to good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll therapy.