Manchester Orchestra: The Million Masks of God
Leave it to Manchester Orchestra to write an album that leaves you feeling both bereft and whole again in one swoop. The alt-rock band’s sixth LP, The Million Masks of God—their since first since 2017’s A Black Mile to the Surface—surges with sadness and hope in equal measure. It is an immersive sonic journey that naturally builds on the Atlanta group’s festival-weaned rock roots; their deeply emotional and personal songs, written jointly by singer Andy Hull and guitarist Robert McDowell, feel raw and exposed in the best way possible. The layered, soaring tracks—which were co-produced by Hull, McDowell and Catherine Marks—largely investigate the feelings of grief and loss, particularly timely themes given the past year. Understandably, there’s a melancholy tinge to the set, even on upbeat selections like “Keel Timing,” and Hull doesn’t pull any punches in his lyrics, which reflect on the sort of emotional growth that only comes with age. On “Let It Storm,” he welcomes the challenges ahead, singing, “I don’t want to hold back my faith anymore/ I don’t want to fall into that man again/ I just want to keep both my feet on the floor.” The material clearly comes from a personal place, but it never comes off as overly autobiographical. And, despite rolling between rockers which invoke some of Manchester Orchestra’s earlier work, like single “Bed Head,” and moments of hushed introspection, such as “Way Back,” The Million Masks of God still feels like one emotional expression— bringing you up and down and back again in the most universal way possible.