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Manchester Orchestra Announce New Album

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  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from chorus.fm for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    Manchester Orchestra will release their new album, The Million Masks of God, on April 30th. Today they’ve shared the new song “Bedhead” and pre-orders are now up.

    The wait is over: following a cryptic, 7-day countdown initiated upon the completion of last Friday’s live screening of A Black Mile To The Surface: The Global Concert Film, Manchester Orchestra today announced their new album The Million Masks of God will be released April 30th, 2021 via Loma Vista Recordings. The Black Mile film—a front-to-back performance of the band’s 2017 instant-classic album that saw over 7,000 viewers tune-in live and now has over 100,000 streams to date—culminated in the launch ofTheMillionMasksOfGod.com, which revealed teasers of the album art as well as instrumental stems from the urgent and sweeping first single, “Bed Head.” The song debuted last night via SiriusXM’s Alt Nation ‘Advanced Placement,’ and can now be heard alongside the cinematic, Andrew Donoho-directed video that finds a home haunted by a spectral Andy Hull. “‘Bed Head’ is two old friends existing in two separate realities,” explains Hull, who joined SiriusXM’s Alt Nation yesterday evening to discuss the new album. “It’s a conversation about the lives they lived, the consequences of life’s decisions, and finding purpose in trying to be better.” With special effects of Poltergeist-level proportion, the “Bed Head” mini-supernatural thriller film mirrors the song’s howling close, and ranks among the best in the band’s canon of celebrated visuals. 
    
    Produced by Manchester Orchestra’s lead songwriting duo of Hull and Robert McDowell, Catherine Marks (PJ Harvey, The Killers) and Ethan Gruska (Phoebe Bridgers), The Million Masks of God presents an even grander scale of the epic and re-focused approach to record-making that the Atlanta, GA-based band has forged in recent years. Their sixth album finds Hull, McDowell, Tim Very (drums), and Andy Prince (bass) relentlessly pushing themselves to create a work that breaks beyond the scope and limits of every previous release in an effort to create their most towering achievement to date, all while sorting through the aftermath of a devastating loss. 
    
    The Million Masks of God can be seen, in a way, as the band's sophomore album following a rebirth with Black Mile (which featured the band’s first #1 AAA and Top 15 Alternative radio hit “The Gold”), and Hull’s early concept for it was a natural extension of the main theme of its predecessor. “If Black Mile was this idea of ‘from birth to death,’ this album would really be more about ‘from birth to beyond, focusing on the highs and lows of life and exploring what could possibly come next,’” he explains. 
    
    Manchester Orchestra approached Masks with the intention of creating tightly-woven “movie albums” designed to be listened to in sequence and in a single sitting, with the songs working together to tell a bold, long-form narrative. The Million Masks of Godexplores the loose story of a man’s encounter with the angel of death as he's shown various scenes from his life in a snapshot-style assemblage. Some moments he witnesses are good, some are bad, some difficult, some commendable—in other words, they depict an entirely normal life. Initially based on a fictitious character, Masks began to process real-time emotions as McDowell’s father entered the toughest part of his fight with cancer, eventually losing the battle in 2019. “It started off really abstract, but as Robert’s dad’s fight with cancer got harder and harder those last couple years, I started making parallels in my mind to what I was actually writing about,” Hull explains. “It became an examination of my own faith. While Robert’s dad’s story certainly influenced this album, it’s equally about me coming to grips with the realness of adulthood and that there’s an expiration date to all of this—and how you’re going to live your life knowing that.”
     
    The Million Masks of God is a testament to the kinship of its songwriting duo—the bond that enables them to take something so tragically personal and turn it into limitless, compassionate, communal, revelatory art. “There’s a decision we’re faced with when experiencing loss and the inevitable grief that follows. Do we let it sink us? Try to ignore it and pretend it’s not there? Or do we search and dig until we find signs of beauty in life and all of its experiences?” explains Hull. “In a way, the grief will always define you but being together and creating something meaningful from all of the hardships has been the most helpful tool I’ve found."

    Track Listing

    1. Inaudible
    2. Angel Of Death
    3. Keel Timing
    4. Bed Head
    5. Annie
    6. Telepath
    7. Let It Storm
    8. Dinosaur
    9. Obstacle
    10. Way Back
    11. The Internet

    Biography

    “There’s a decision we’re faced with when experiencing loss and the inevitable grief that follows. Do we let it sink us? Try to ignore it and pretend it’s not there? Or do we search and dig until we find signs of beauty in life and all of its experiences? In a way, the grief will always define you but being together and creating something meaningful from all of the hardships has been the most helpful tool I’ve found…”  – Andy Hull (January 2021)
    
    Manchester Orchestra’s new album The Million Masks of God presents an even grander scale of the epic and re-focused approach to record-making that the band has forged in recent years. The band—lead songwriting duo Andy Hull and Robert McDowell, alongside Tim Very (drums) and Andy Prince (bass)—relentlessly pushed themselves to create music that would break beyond the scope and limits of every previous album, all while sorting through the aftermath of a devastating loss.
    
    While making 2017’s instant-classic A Black Mile To The Surface (featuring the band’s first #1 AAA and Top 15 Alternative radio hit “The Gold”), Hull and McDowell had an epiphany about how they wanted to approach their band’s music from that point forward, a way inspired heavily by the multi-tiered challenges and rewards they encountered while working on their first film score (2016’s Swiss Army Man). The new method was to make tightly-woven “movie albums” intended to be listened to in sequence and in a single sitting, with the songs working together to tell a bold, long-form narrative. The Million Masks of God can be seen, in a way, as the band’s sophomore album following a rebirth with Black Mile, and Hull’s early concept for it was a natural extension of the main theme of its predecessor. “If Black Mile was this idea of ‘from birth to death,’ this album would really be more about ‘from birth to beyond, focusing on the highs and lows of life and exploring what could possibly come next,’” he explains.
    
    Masks explores the loose story of a man’s encounter with the angel of death as he’s shown various scenes from his life in a snapshot-style assemblage. Some moments he witnesses are good, some are bad, some difficult, some commendable—in other words, they depict an entirely normal life. Initially based on a fictitious character, Masks began to process real-time emotions as McDowell’s father entered the toughest part of his fight with cancer, eventually losing the battle in 2019. “It started off really abstract, but as Robert’s dad’s fight with cancer got harder and harder those last couple years, I started making parallels in my mind to what I was actually writing about,” Hull explains. “It became an examination of my own faith. While Robert’s dad’s story certainly influenced this album, it’s equally about me coming to grips with the realness of adulthood and that there’s an expiration date to all of this—and how you’re going to live your life knowing that.”
    
    “My dad was a musician and our band’s biggest fan, and I can’t think of a more flattering way to honor him than to let him exist in a form of art he loved so much,” McDowell says. “It wasn’t shocking to hear what Andy had been writing; the way he writes, the real life around him will always trickle in. For me, the album’s story isn’t just about the figure’s death but the life. It’s unfortunate but unavoidable: in life, death happens, and it’s been happening forever. We’re figuring out how to exist with grief, but grief hasn’t killed humanity. We have to zoom out and see it as part of life.”
    
    At three different points throughout 2019, the duo convened with the remaining half of the band in a Georgia cabin to hash out the sonic skeletons of the songs. Armed with patience and prowess, Manchester spent countless hours and untold energy on this constructing process. Despite this dedicated effort, they also resolved to stay fresh, a decision that led them to take months off at various points—to return to their families, and once to tour for the tenth anniversary of the band’s second album. In the time since, Hull and McDowell also scored their second film (2019’s The Death of Dick Long), and released Bad Books’ (their band with Kevin Devine) 2019 album III. More recently, Hull found time to collaborate with diverse artists like Logic and Paris Jackson (whose debut album he and McDowell produced). The process was ultimately the most time the band had spent working on songs prior to recording.
    
    When it came time to record, Manchester turned again to producer Catherine Marks, with whom they collaborated on Black Mile, and artist/producer Ethan Gruska (Phoebe Bridgers). Masks was finalized between sessions at Echo Mountain Studio in North Carolina and at Gruska’s studio in Los Angeles. The four-headed production monster of Hull, McDowell, Marks, and Gruska (who also contributed keyboard, guitar, and percussion) proved to be an invigorating combination. As epic and ripping sonically as it is conceptually heady, the album unfurls into an ever-expanding and lush world of instrumentation. The driving “Keel Timing” simmers to a howl before seamlessly shifting into the urgent and cathartic “Bed Head,” and are two of the band’s most fiery singles to date. With a share of quieter moments, like the tender “Telepath” and the wistful “Way Back,” Manchester Orchestra maintain a transcendent dynamic throughout.
    
    “We were taking what we learned on Black Mile even further,” Hull explains. “If something felt most comfortable as a traditional rock song, we’d try to figure out how to turn it into something that’s less comfortable for us to dig into but that could actually sound better. I do think working on it so much for so long helped the songs all start to organically connect. Several songs share choruses, lyrics fold over themselves and keep coming back, and there’s a cyclical intertwining within it all. It’s a carefully constructed collection. A dream-like montage of life experience.”
    
    In fact, the sequencing of the songs was perhaps the most deliberate choice made. Hull intentionally disregarded a more traditional sonic chronology in order to stay in step with the subject matter, instead balancing the record more in the way a life might play out. He explains: “There’s the idea of a birth; the beginning of the end, maybe, and the louder, more intense arrangements are placed up front in order to parallel the hectic nature of your early life and the anxiety and stresses of that stage. And as it continues on there’s more resolve and quiet and focus, almost like you’re laying the listener down—at the very end, everything’s slowing. So once we committed to that idea, it was fascinating for us to figure out how it all fit together. It opened up a lot of possibilities. We weren’t afraid of straying away from a typical structure anymore.”
    
    The Million Masks of God is undoubtedly Manchester Orchestra’s most towering achievement, and showcases the strength and boundary-pushing invention of their renowned catalog. It’s also a testament to the kinship of its songwriting duo—the bond that enables them to take something so tragically personal and turn it into limitless, compassionate, communal, revelatory art. “Making this record reiterated to us that there are no rules and there is no ceiling,” Hull says. “It convinced us of what we were stumbling upon with Black Mile, which was to be ambitious and take our time in order to create something really special; to be courageous and think differently. There’s a huge amount of trust within the band now, and when that happens you start to trust everything more. The whole thing feels like a real unit of discovery and accomplishment.”
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    footiepajamaz likes this.
  2. bmir14

    Regular Supporter

    Oh and it's perfect
     
    artbynickferran likes this.
  3. aoftbsten

    Trusted Supporter

    Great song. Love the video too.
     
  4. CMilliken

    Trusted

    Instant preorder!
     
    DeRRek likes this.
  5. benschuyler

    Regular Prestigious

    How are they so damn consistent? This single is great.
     
  6. footiepajamaz

    Newbie

    A really reasonable step forward from Black Mile. I’m happy to have a little bit of edge and energy back.
     
    aoftbsten likes this.
  7. ramomcferno

    Mystery is the secret ingredient Prestigious

    Really great single and the press release sounds like the album will be great.
     
  8. Buscemi knows best

    You owe me a Sausage McMuffin Supporter

    Pre-ordered as soon as I saw, and missed some of the limited variants. Not mad, happy to see such a strong launch day for these guys. One of the best bands out there and just so consistent.
     
  9. artbynickferran

    nickferran.com

    Probably my most-anticipated for this year, and that was before I even heard the new song. Black Mile grew to be one of my favorite records of the past few years, and it seems this will continue that trend.
     
  10. AAstra

    Newbie

    Haven’t listened to any of their recent stuff. I like this though. I’m getting serious Silversun Pickups vibes. Have they had that going on the last few albums or is it a new sound?
     
  11. FTank

    Trusted Prestigious

    This is a pretty natural step from the last album, definitely recommend checking that one out