Everything Everything’s debut album Man Alive was shortlisted for the Mercury Prize in 2011, and is certainly one of my favourite musical works of the last few years. So, has album number two, Arc, been worth the wait?
The record commences with, ‘Cough Cough’, also the first single to have been released from the record in August 2012. This song is absolutely packed with near continuous lyrics; it’s a great start to the album and is full of Everything Everything energy. Lead singer Jonathan Higgs begins, “Yeah…so…um…wait a second” – it’s punchy and has numerous layers to it, with a lot going on. Any longer and it would perhaps become tiresome, but fortunately the duration is spot on. Like always with Everything Everything, the lyrics are quirky but equally clever, “And that eureka moment hits you like a cop car/And you wake up just head and shoulders in a glass jar.”
Next comes second single released from the album, ‘Kemosabe’ and it really is a belter of a tune, with a robotic sounding intro, solid punchy drums and fluttering guitar riffs. This is my favourite; it’s catchy art pop. The name Kemosabe comes from a catchphrase used in The Lone Ranger and the gist of the song is that you can be with somebody but still feel alone. Lead singer Jonathan Higgs’ high ranging vocals and repetitive but contagious lyrics, as well as the harmonies, add an interesting dimension to the overall sound. Following this comes ‘Torso of the Week’ (yes it is a satirical reference to ‘Heat’ magazine) where Higgs sings “Girl you been hitting that treadmill like a freak/Maybe you’re not quite the torso of the week.” I love the drum percussion sounds on this track, and also the heavier elements towards the end. Like the first two songs of the album, there’s certainly a lot for your ears to take in.
‘Duet’ changes the dimensions of the album, with an interesting use of string instruments. It does indeed contain nice duets, and is very sound-distinctive for the band; “I don’t know what’s real and what’s going on/And I don’t wanna be here when the sky is gone.” Interesting ranges of sound spring forth in ‘Choice Mountain’; “And you don’t look impressed/I could be the girlfriend of your dreams/I could be a pterodactyl God.” It sounds almost choral, and the glitchy guitars later on in the track sound very Radiohead-esque, however by this point, the pace of the album has dropped, and has lost it’s punch. Nevertheless, it’s still musically solid and pleasant listening.
‘Feet For Hands’ has Jonathan wailing and grunting like Rihanna. It’s slightly tedious and has a different feel to the other songs. It’s not my favourite, but it does pick up the momentum of the album. Meanwhile, ‘Undrowned’ sounds like a floaty shanty, and the clever lyrics have a poetic rhythm, “There’s so much to talk about that we don’t talk about” Higgs sings in his classic high pitched vocals. It builds to a dramatic ending, shouting “Don’t let me down!”
Nearing the end of the album comes forth ‘The Peaks’ with mellow R&B influences, not all that far from The Weeknd, R.Kelly and Frank Ocean. Closing the record, ‘Don’t Try’ is one that sounds very chart-worthy and radio-friendly. It’s a great finisher, with fast paced lyrics; I’m intrigued by the experimental pop elements.
Well, I think it works! Most of the time I have no idea what they’re talking about until I’ve done some research, however there are more emotive elements to the album that weren’t present in Man Alive. It’s definitely more chilled out than their first – there’s nothing as heavy as ‘Suffragette Suffragette’. The lads have consciously and carefully maintained their unique pop sound, the lyrics being a pivotal part of this, and the top notch production. Their time spent crafting their second album was well spent; the music is interesting and most importantly it is fun.
Arc is released on 14th January. Everything Everything will be playing locally at a sold out Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms show on 6th February.