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Precocious, Theatrical and Piercingly Lovely

Like so many other heart-on-the-sleeve indie acts, the Georgia-based Manchester Orchestra is more about a boy who created a band around a fixed idea — himself — than about a functioning band that already happened to exist.

Manchester Orchestra is a vehicle for the musings of its frontman, Andy Hull, who is himself a vehicle for a host of influences ranging from early Built to Spill to Elliott Smith to Death Cab for Cutie — admittedly, not an outrageously broad range. The 20-year-old Hull has the trebly, perpetually aggrieved voice of Death Cab's Ben Gibbard and an affinity for Woody Allen, biblical theology and sweeping jams, not necessarily in that order.

His group's official full-length debut, I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child, feels precocious and theatrical and piercingly lovely. One of its simpler tracks, "Now That You're Home" is a punchy, musclebound song that ends without the orchestral curlicues and jams that populate the rest of the disc.

Like most of Virgin, it's literate and awkward, like the musical version of a Wes Anderson film, with lyrics ("Sweet Jesus, I swear that I love you / no matter what the chariot says") that bear no resemblance to the way that people actually talk, think, love, make up or break up. It's smart enough and heartfelt enough to suggest a major talent percolating in there somewhere, even if he's listened more than he's lived so far.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Allison L. Stewart
Allison Stewart is a writer living in New York. It's entirely possible to see her work in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, No Depression, Rolling Stone or any number of other places. Or to miss it entirely, which is just as likely.