Album Review: Everything Everything – Get to Heaven

By on Monday, 22nd June 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Everything Everything Get to Heaven coverWhen we first heard Manchester’s Everything Everything’s first single ‘MY KZ UR BF’, it was clear they were a band who weren’t going to follow anyone else’s lead. Their debut album ‘Man Alive’ was a watershed moment in indie, their percussive, off kilter sound catching the eyes and ears of the 2010 Mercury Prize nominating committee. Follow-up ‘Arc’, which followed in January 2013, continued their raison d’etre to push sonic boundaries, but maybe not with the same success. Here in June 2015, the group have returned with their third album ‘Get to Heaven’, and just as we usher in summer festival season, Everything Everything have already surfaced at their live appearances nattily dressed in matching suits, as if aping the Temptations. Hmm…

Speaking about the new album to NME, Jonathan Higgs said the effort was borne out of the uncertain, worrisome time it was written in: “I think you’d have to be blind and deaf to have lived through 2014 and not shed a tear. If you put out a record this year and it’s all smiles, then I think you’re a liar, basically.” Going on that statement, it’s not surprising at all that ‘Get to Heaven’ is both jarring to the ears and challenging. The question then is, is this an album that you’ll want to queue up start to finish again? Is it a summer must-have? Without a doubt, it definitely sounds different from ‘Arc’, much more muscular and energetic than the more dour, introspective moments we heard on the last record.

The earliest revealed singles from Everything Everything’s third album prove their continued excellence in writing a hit pop song. The bounce of ‘Distant Past’, owing much to its powerful drums, funky bass line and Higgs’ trademark staccatoed, MC-style lyrical delivery, is an earworm of the highest calibre. Going back to that mention above about their new look as a 21st century Temps, the harmonies of ‘Regret’ have a gospel feel, while Higgs leads the proceedings with his lilting falsetto in the chorus. The overall effect is mesmerising.

‘Spring / Summer / Winter / Dread’ surprised me the most on this record, as musically it’s the band’s most overtly mainstream pop effort to date. If it weren’t for the words where Higgs accuses “I know what you are / a thief and a murderer too / you stole the face that you wear / from a craven baboon”, with the kind of synth action it has, it would feel at home on a Bastille album. And the tune ends with a guitar lick Eddie Van Halen would be proud of. Where the heck did that come from? Maybe that was meant to echo the underlying sentiment of wanting rebellion. Another standout on ‘Get to Heaven’ is opening track ‘To the Blade’, which has both moments of gentleness and in your face freneticism.

Much of this album is, as alluded to earlier by Higgs’ quote to the NME, unsettling to the listener. ‘Fortune 500’ has a sinister bent towards the Royal Family, yet with a weirdly New Wave-y way, with synths more to the foreground than its percussion. ‘The Wheel (Is Turning Now)’ is rappy, buzzy, skittish, hitting out at blind politicians leading the blind. “I’m going to kill a stranger / so don’t you be a stranger / oh baby, it’s all right / it’s all right to feel / like a fat child in a pushchair / old enough to run / old enough to fire a gun” are probably going to be the defining lyrics of this album, and eerily so that the release date is just days after the Charleston Emanuel AME church massacre, but what the band was getting at writing ‘No Reptiles’ was the insanity of emotional detachment from what we should be feeling when horrors are committed against our fellow man.

And that’s the point of ‘Get to Heaven’: to get you, the listener, to stand up and take notice, if not get angry, go out there and really do something about the injustices you see. While it’s admirable for its moral focus, it’s not exactly light fare for the summer lyrically. I commend Everything Everything on is having written an interesting record that on the surface is enticing rhythmically, and if one in 20 young people listening to their songs on Radio 1 is inspired by their music, then they should consider it a job well done.

7.5/10

Everything Everything’s third album ‘Get to Heaven’ is out on today on RCA. Catch them on tour in November in the UK. For all our past coverage of the band on TGTF, right this way.

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