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“Cope, to me, means getting by. It means letting go, and being OK with being OK,” says Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull. “You can cope in a positive way when bad things happen or a negative way, and that blend was a big lyrical theme for me on this album.” The Atlanta band found itself at a crossroads as they approached making their fourth studio album — in between labels, uncertain of Manchester Orchestra’s future for the first time since Hull started the band almost a decade ago. He was barely finished with high school back then, and now Hull and his bandmates were transitioning into the adult reality that shit happens. They’d learned a bit about letting go themselves.
So Manchester Orchestra regrouped. They built a studio with their own hands, and spent month after month workshopping new tunes, writing and demoing together in a room — a process that was completely new for them. The change did them good. Witness the title track: COPE takes its name from the track that closes its unrelentingly heavy thirty-eight minutes with the strongest blow of them all. The behemoth “Cope” was written during one of the earliest sessions for the album, and it helped chart the course for everything that followed. Manchester Orchestra had undertaken a process of writing and demoing a new song every single day, with Hull composing lyrics as they went. “Sometimes when you’re making up lyrics on the spot, God will drop one on you that you didn’t intend,” says Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull of writing “Cope.” “There’s a lyric, ‘And I hope if there’s one thing I let go, it is the way that we cope. I remember being like, ‘Fuuuck, that’s really cool,’ and getting kind of teary about it. It was like, ‘alright, now we have our starting point.’”