Get to Heaven is a Frankenstein’s Monster of an album, as the band’s signature instrumental oddities are presented with a new alt-pop twist. The result is a bizarre yet beautiful album that all the while paints a bleak caricature of the 21st century.
Fans of Everything Everything won’t be disappointed with their third studio effort, as they combine precise and mathematical instrumentation with the soaring acrobatics of Jonathan Higgs’s falsetto vocals. But Get To Heaven takes a step away from its predecessors, combining the intelligent song writing style that Everything Everything prides itself on with catchy melodies and bright chord progressions.
‘Spring / Sun / Winter / Dread’ is a perfect example, with its chorus that bears eerie similarities to the verse melody from ‘Blank Space’ by Taylor Swift. Strange as that may sound on paper the band pulls it off surprisingly well, and more importantly, it works to create a brilliant track. Their new-found desire to write intelligent pop might come as a shock to old fans of the band but it certainly won’t disappoint them, as Everything Everything adopt key elements of the genre and mould it to fit their own style. The chorus chord progression in ‘Distant Past’ could easily fit into a club anthem, and the instruments are reeled back from their usual frantic demeanour resulting in a thoroughly enjoyable and well written pop song. More importantly, it’s not out of place amongst the typically unusual style of the band’s musical oeuvre.
‘The Wheel (Is Turning Now)’ begins with a deceptively calm vocal harmony before kicking into a deep and heavy beat, speckled with trap inspired hi-hats and an eerie underlying chord progression before suddenly transitioning into a blissful pre-chorus. ‘No Reptiles’ also has strange beginnings as Higgs babbles at breakneck speed before the track meanders towards an emotive and poignant finale. The album closer ‘Warm Healer’ opens with a feverish, muted guitar riff before diving into a synth soaked choral section. This seems to be the way with Get To Heaven. Tracks feel fluid and interchangeable, moving from bizarre verses to paced down and blissful choruses in seconds. Though this isn’t the case for all of their songs, as ‘Blast Doors’ is consistently energetic and frantic throughout, but nonetheless, it’s a formula that works well for a band like Everything Everything, one that are constantly experimenting with their stylistic expression.
Get To Heaven is a departure from the indecipherable lyrics of Man Alive and Arc as the band instead try to capture the pessimistic state of affairs that the 21st century finds itself in. With ‘To The Blade’ exploring the horrors of the ISIS beheadings last summer, and ‘Distant Past’ begging to be taken to a land before the horrors of modern life, these two opening songs instantly establish the tone of the the album. Their second single ‘Regret’ concerns the girls that fled western society to join ISIS, opening with the statement “first you’ll see me on the news, then never again.” While the song itself lacks the creative flair to compete with the rest of the album, it does lean on the merits of the lyrical content, exploring a contemporary issue that other musicians would shy away from.
Despite the darker subject matter, the lyrics themselves are still as colourful and peculiar as ever. Higgs is satirically desensitised to death and violence in the title track, wondering what his password is or where in the blazes he parked his car amongst a sea of tanks, vultures and blackened skies. Even more comically so, in ‘No Reptiles’ Higgs comforts the listener, saying “it’s all right to feel like a fat child in a pushchair, old enough to run, old enough to fire a gun.” It says something about the time we live in, where such a ridiculous statement begins to carry some weight with each repetition. After all, life in the 21st Century can make you feel like a fat baby trapped in an adult’s body as all of the seeming pessimism, gloom and death never seems to make any sense, and what’s more is that we are powerless to stop it.
However there’s no need to go giving up on mankind just yet, as there’s a brief sliver of hope in Everything Everything’s bleak caricature of the world as the band cry in an angelic (excuse the pun) harmony: “we can get to that heaven!” Perhaps there’s hope for humanity after all and in hindsight, it’s a perfect title for this frantic and apocalyptic alt-pop album, one that constantly battles between bleak lyrical tones and catchy beats.
Get To Heaven is out now via Sony RCA Records.