Everything Everything are one of my favorite bands. The band are one of the most talented song-writers around at the moment managing to be all amazingly gifted musicians but never drifting too far into self-indulgent territory. Their influences are countless, everything from Krautrock to Modern R'N'B and it shows as the ambition of the songs they create are something to admire. They can often jump all over the place stylistically, with Jonathan Higgs' trademark epileptic falsetto and surreal lyrics offering a bizarre yet intriguing voice to add purpose to the music.
When I heard their debut 'Man Alive' for the first time I instantly fell in love and that album remains firmly one of favourite albums. Much like 'In Rainbows' by Radiohead, I just don't think I'll ever get bored of it, there are always new layers to explore. The follow-up, 'Arc', for me didn't reach the same levels. Whilst having some incredible songs such as lead singles 'Cough Cough' and 'Kemosabe' the album felt lopsided, starting and ending brilliantly but having a mid-album lull. At 13-tracks long, a bit more tight editing down of the track list may have helped the album. But I'm nit-picking and could not have been more excited and hopefully going into 'Get To Heaven' which promised much from the singles they dropped before the release. Here are my impressions of each track:
To The Blade
While not quite matching the brilliant opening tracks on their other albums, this is an excellent start to the album. After a quite intro the song explodes in a manner which still makes me jump on the 10,000th listen. It showcases the melancholic undertone the whole album has, specifically the vocal line of the chorus which gives a sense hopelessness and isolation. For Everything Everything standards it's a fairly with-strained song, but this shows a welcome sense of direction and discipline.
Compared to the relative with-strained nature of the opener this is classic all-over the place Everything Everything. The disparate sections, sampled robot voices, brit-pop guitars and verses incredibly close to rap could have been a disaster, but the chorus holds it all together. It's clearly festival ready and destined to feature on many a Football Focus montage. It was always destined to be the lead single, despite not being particularly representative of the album as a whole. I still enjoy the song although I can see it grating after a while.
Get To Heaven
Oh blimey, this is a song and a half. Unashamedly inspired by 80's pop with its Toto-esque shimmering guitars, sun kissed synths and even whistling! WHISTLING! Very few bands would have to confidence to have a whistling section and even fewer could pull it off, but Everything Everything do. But it never strays into derivative grounds, it feels modern, most notably in the call-and-recieve guitar lines of the middle eight which have distinct Deerhoof feel. This song is fantastically produced as well, sounding impossibly colourful and bright. It's also the best song about forgetting your password ever written.
This is where the rather dark themes of the album become more apparent. The lyrics seem to be about the the guilt you feel knowing of all the atrocities in the world but not doing anything about it. However the song isn't depressing, it's quite uplifting in a way which is quite a feat given that song repeats the phrase 'regret' through the majority of its run time. My only slight complaint is that Higgs at times sounds like he is trying too hard to make his voice sound idiosyncratic here, notably how he sings the word 'automaton' is bit ridiculous.
Spring/ Summer/ Winter/ Dread
The 80's feel continues here, in fact there is a very specific part of the first verse which sounds like it's about the burst into 'All Night' by Lionel Richie. The majority of the song is carried on the back of an infectious keyboard line, showing the band can lock on rhythm and don't need to keep on jumping around, especially as it the vocal line repeats towards the end heading towards the crescendo, including a brilliantly messy guitar line which sounds like it is being straggled with a hose. In a good way.
The Wheel (Is Turning Now)
The first song which left me a bit cold on the album. The verse and chorus don't really gel for me, and there is nothing that really sticks in my head, the verse melody is particularly unmemorable. It takes a noticeable dive halfway through, changing into a claustrophobic dark atmosphere, all panic-attack drum kicks and haunted keys. But it doesn't really lead anywhere, leaving it the first song on the album to underwhelm me.
Taking off from the sinister tone of The Wheel's ending, Future 500 picks up this mood and runs with it. Much like Undrowned off Arc, this song is the center-piece of the album and creates and powerful, paranoid atmosphere with a melody sounding like a twisted nursery rhyme. You get the feeling all along this song that something indescribable but terrible is about to happen. The splurging keyboard sounds like the sound of a thousand distant sirens going off simultaneously with biblical horns swelling in and out. In incredible track with a sense of foreboding which perfectly encapsulates to the current political and social angst in the world today.
Possibly the most Everything Everything song Everything Everything have made it continues with the themes of the evils of modern society. This is one of my favourite tracks on the album but I can't really explain, which is good for a review. I think a large reason for it is the bridge, which is just heartbreaking, there is a real sense of pain in Higg's voice during this section, linking the song together perfectly.
Takes a while to get going this song. It is interesting to note how the band have changed their approach to making songs on this album, leaving more space for the instrumentals and not putting vocals over the top of everything, giving the music and indeed the listener room to breathe. This song shows that best with large gaps between the verses filled with pallet-cleaning guitar lines. The first two minuets have a cool tone and rhythm to them without doing anything spectacular, but when the “give me the gun” section heads the song flies towards its apex it becomes spectacular going head first into an explosion of vocal manipulation before abruptly ending.
Higgs is at his most vocal dextrous here, sounding like a kid like he has had too much sugar and is trying to explain to his mother the different social, economic and moral reason why he should be allowed to play on the swings. It's impressive how he does it but it's absolutely impossible to hear what he is actually saying without reading it. This wouldn't be a problem if it wasn't such a vocal-fronted song. But as the song evolves and opens up, Higgs voice ends up sounding at its most beautiful. The lyrics, most notably "it's all right to feel like a fat child" line, just stay the right side of brilliant and cringey (a line Morrissey as well as Higgs is constantly on the edge of). Again the band focus on repeating lyrics with the music changing underneath them like on a lot of other tracks on this album, this probably being their most successful attempt.
The stuttering, jolted bassline that is the backbone of this song is quite something. The tone of it suggest ssomething almost like math-rock, but in truth the actual song is beautifully melancholic and pretty much the perfect ending track for this album. Antidote-era Foals guitar sounds and (as the name would suggest) warm keys make the song feel like drifting into a much needed sleep. Much like the first track on the album the track is fairly disciplined, evolving this one main groove throughout it's six minute run time and showing a level subtlety that I don't think the band has shown before.
Overall I think 'Get To Heaven' is a fantastic record. If you're a Everything Everything fan, you'll probably love it. However I don't see it converting anyone he previous disliked the band. They clearly make strives to have more focused songs on this album, but still have that trademark ambition and dexterity in the playing which elevates them above much modern guitar music around at the moment. While this album isn't as remarkable or memorable as their debut, it's definitely more consistent and focused than 'Arc'.