Manchester Orchestra | Frightened Rabbit & Grouplove Split 12″

A great collaboration that's considerably more than the already ample sum of its parts

Architect cover

At times I worry this site is become a Frightened Rabbit fan-page, as whenever they release anything it tends to drown out other records. But if this blog is anything at all, it’s a reflection of what I’m listening to and what I’m enjoying; to hide my fandom under a bushel would be to defeat the point. I do like Manchester Orchestra – the lynchpin of this two-track 12″ – on his own merit, but probably wouldn’t have shelled out for this Record Store Day special release had it not had the FR name on the cover.

The format is simple: two songs, both co-written by Manchester Orchestra and another band. Side one, Make It To Me, is a collaboration with Grouplove, an act previously unknown to me, and side two, Architect, is a joint effort with FR. As I’ve said many times before, Scott Hutchinson’s songwriting is remarkably consistent, and his influence is clear on this record. Hutchison and MO frontman Andy Hull’s voices blend well together, both tending towards the ‘strained’ end of the performance spectrum, and the duo’s writing styles are so similar it’s hard to pick out who contributed what.

Make It To Me coverFor Make It To Me, the differing styles of the contributors are easier to identify. Overall it feels more like a normal Manchester Orchestra track than Architect does, but whereas MO and FR’s styles are fairly well aligned, the outside influence of Grouplove is clear from the start. If you’re familiar with Manchester Orchestra or Frightened Rabbit then the sound of Architect would come as no surprise, but Make It To Me might well induce a raised eyebrow. For starters it’s actually rather joyful – a charge that can rarely be raised against MO or FR – and it’s jaunty breakdown owes more to the two-step shenanigans of the brostep scene than any of the styles normally featured on these pages. The less said about the ‘spoken word’ section the better, but the bright and effervescent synths definitely add a certain charm and sparkle, and the catchy chorus – if only brief – is as good as anything churned out by the pop-rock craftsmen of the early noughties.

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