From the moment you learn Atlantic Manor's "Failing by the Second" is an album which reflects Rick Sell's divorce, it is obvious the album will be sad and emotional (at least you hope so). The Atlantic Manor is Sell's project, a one man band reflecting a true indie spirit. The album was recorded lo-fi with songs simple and straight from the heart. Do not expect over produced epics, "Failing by the Second" is moping in tone and, with a couple exceptions, melodic in sound.
Focusing more on instrumentation, Sell's vocals only make an appearance on "Failing by the Second," consisting of a spacey tune over both distorted effects and simple clip-clapping. More melodic and almost up beat, Sell's tries to put things behind him ("But we can't talk and we'll never change/I know you feel the same") on "Every Thing Can Die Today," the song is highlighted with warmer female vocals on the end. With a slightly new age sort of feel, "No One Cares About Your Reasons Why" is endearing while "Inside Your Heart," starting slow, stands out with its reserved power.
Changing the sound, "Strung Out Camp Talk" is up tempo and rocking with a punk ethos and a wall of fuzzy distortion that is over nearly before it begins, in less than two minutes. Going from one extreme to another, "Suicide Jockey" builds slightly in volume from nearly inaudible with squealing distortion as Sell sings "He's kissing you/And he holds you tight/He says the things/I could never get right." Shaking you awake with a louder, up tempo song (with so many volume changes, "Failing by the Second" is not very earphone friendly), "Jacks Death Scene" has a surprisingly pleasant sound to it. "Sally was a troubled girl/She had a troubled mind/Jack could only toss and turn/In their coffin late at night," Sell sings in his interesting lyrics. Different for the album, "Broken Bones Heal" stands out as a simpler song that picks up in pace and adds more instruments; the song is short and well executed. The album's final song, a hidden track, is made up on a child and a man speaking over plinking piano.
"Failing by the Second" is emotionally touching, with enough moping songs to possibly bring you down. But it does not; there is the feeling of the light at the end of the tunnel somewhere. Musically dynamic to say the least, the songs range in speed, sound, idea and volume while remaining focused. Atlantic Manor proves indie rock, at the core, is not always flashy guitar licks and screaming vocals.