Everything Everything have always been one of those groups I mean to listen to but somehow I never get round to it. This latest release ‘A Fever Dream’ has given me the required kick to catch up with them. I’m glad I did. This is the group’s fourth LP and what you’ll find if you give it a chance is one hell of a beautifully crafted slice of alt-pop.
‘Night Of The Long Knives’ is an opener that knocks you for six with a big, fat synth drone that’s immediately infectious. Jonathan Higgs does have a voice which, arguably, takes a bit of getting used to. But once you do you’ll see that it’s the perfect vehicle for the style of music, bending in and out of falsetto seemingly effortlessly to deliver perfect pop hooks again and again. At times it can feel a bit Chris Martin meets Thom Yorke but I’d argue Higgs has done enough to create his own vocal identity by this stage.
‘Can’t Do’ is arguably the standout single or pop tune with its ‘can’t do the thing you want’ repeating refrain but, actually, by the time we move into ‘Desire’ you might be forgiven for assuming this is going to be a record consisting of banger after banger. Not quite. ‘Big Game’ serves up something of a lull and it’s a welcome one because it gives the listener a chance to focus more on the lyrical content of the album, with notably cheeky little lines such as ‘someone’s gonna pull your big trousers down’. This is illustrative of the fact Everything Everything don’t simply deal in bop-along synthpop. Indeed, such a perception belies the fact there’s a witty pop lyricism that rides on top of it all and, in the case of this album in particular, one that also reflects the often troubling times we’re living through. ‘Good Shot, Good Soldier’ continues to make this impression.
‘Run the Numbers’ gives mention to a certain ‘rat king’ and the ‘corridors of power’. You can make your mind up yourself whom or what this is alluding to but musically this is a noticeable point in the album where things feel like they’re starting to pick up pace again. There’s a really hefty change in dynamics for the chorus. Everything Everything here are in a sense rehashing the old Pixies quiet-loud-quiet-loud trick that Nirvana also used so effectively, but updating it to massive effect.
The impression things are about to be taken up a notch proves a false flag as some curious backwards ambient sounds introduce ‘Put Me Together’, which turns out, largely, to be another rather reflective number that feels quite stripped back comparatively. Next the title track delivers a somber opening that slowly builds into something very emotive and aurally appealing. Then, with ‘Ivory Tower’ we have more allusions towards elitism and chuckle-inducing quips such as ‘come and crush me in the Waitrose aisle’. I’m usually more a drawn to the sound of the music as a whole kind of person when I’m kicking back with my headphones on but the lyrics on this album have a way of jumping out of you. Take the mechanical delivery of ‘I can think of nothing else but this but this machine’. Examples such as this all serve to make the wider point this is a group that really know their craft. It’s just fabulously put together.
It all winds down with ‘New Deep’ whilst ‘White Whale’ serves to end proceedings on a pensive but no less machine-like note. On hearing this album for the first time it’s easy to walk away with the impression, such is the force of the delivery at times, that this is an all out assault on the senses. But actually ‘A Fever Dream’ is more varied and entrancing than that. It ebbs and flows, drops down and builds up, and not simply in terms of the individual tracks but during the songs themselves, despite only two being over five minutes long.
Everything Everything adopt the kind of approach that gives them significant room to maneuver meaning they can both revel in the fast-paced moments and deliver more melancholic hard-hitting pronouncements all in one sitting. You’ll forgive yourself for wanting to listen to it again straight away.
‘A Fever Dream’ is out now on RCA.