Manchester Orchestra – A Black Mile to the Surface

A preacher’s son playing music that sounds like contemporary Christian music? Who would have thought! Well, that’s exactly what’s in store for you when you tune in for Manchester Orchestra’s latest effort, A Black Mile To The Surface.

Andy Hull and company have always specialized in creating content that speaks to boring white millennials (and now the Z generation) in suburbia who are resentful toward their parents and/or religion/God. That’s been their lyrical wheelhouse for over 10 years now. That’s literally what all their songs and music videos are about, and this record is no different. Actually they kind of even parody themselves without meaning to on this one – they dial this whole theme up to eleven here. Manchester Orchestra is so on-the-nose with this kind of vaguely church-y, but edgy to dumb teenagers lyrical content on A Black Mile To The Surface that it’s criminally corny.

The fans are so enamored with their leader, Youth Pastor Andy Hull, many of them actually call him “captain,” that they fail to see the simplicity of it all. It seems as if no one ever calls Manchester Orchestra out on their blatantly overproduced musical schlock and trite lyrical cheesiness. Maybe that’s because their lab rat, groupthink fan base has the blinders on so heavily that they love this church rock (sans the PowerPoint screen showing Passion of the Christ clips and waves crashing down on a random beach somewhere) automatically without question, criticism, or the use of any critical thinking skills whatsoever. These ultra-conformist fans classify the music as “AMAZING” (said with their nose pointed in the air and their eyes closed) no matter what. To verify this just check out the comments on any YouTube video by this band, but be sure to bring a barf bag – it’s nauseating.

Manchester Orchestra could literally get away with leaving some guitars feedbacking from their amps for 45 minutes in the recording studio, go out to get a quick bite to eat, come back, album done, and kids would be like, “Just amazing… I really enjoy this new experimental sound they’re going for here. This new brave change in direction really speaks to my soul.” There’s always annoying fans in music. Phish fans, Jimmy Buffet fans, Kiss fans, They Might Be Giants fans, My Chemical Romance fans, etc., are some that come to mind, but Manchester Orchestra fans rival those fans any day. This record is just another resource to arm Manchester Orchestra fans with so they can continue to be insufferable. A Black Mile To The Surface is pretentious non-denominational Christian contemporary music for folks that couldn’t define what the word pretentious is if they were to be put on the spot to define it.

Maybe you’re a Manchester Orchestra fan or cult member. Maybe you’re thinking this is a cruel review. Please know, though: I played this album and compared it back and forth to the local Atlanta Christian contemporary station, 104.7 The Fish, and it really lined up, synced up musically.

Manchester Orchestra
A Black Mile To The Surface 
[Loma Vista]