Words by Robin Ward.
Since their formation in 2007, Everything Everything have established themselves as one of the most individual, darkly witty and consistent bands to date. Spanning plucky rhythms and soaring synths, they have carved a niche space for themselves in the saturated genre of indie-pop-rock, delivering poetic, political commentary alongside distinctive melodies and rich, bursting harmonies. Their first three offerings, Man Alive, Arc and Get To Heaven, helped forge this identity and their latest, A Fever Dream, is no exception to their rules.
Opening with Night of the Long Knives, Everything Everything showcase their classic staccato style submerged beneath harsh, crushing FX, dirty harmonies and harrowing lyricism. Typical of their style, the murderous night of 1934 is modernised, realised through siren synths and the frank, unfiltered honesty of Higgs’ voice. Continuing at full pace, Can’t Do makes its appearance, contrasting its predecessors with popping rhythms and high-rise vocals – it fulfills the quota of the band. The crowd pleasing get-up-and-dance vibes ironic against its commentary of social acceptance. It screams Everything Everything like no other on the album, and is perhaps the closest to their ‘traditional’ sound you’ll find across its entirety.
It’s not all rosy however. Desire mirrors the upbeatness of the prior, yet lacks some of the bands well known sophistication. At times it feels cheap, as if corners were cut in its production. Higgs’ voice feels pushed too far, even teetering on the annoying. The chorus is expansive in sound, yet lacks detail. The bridge is forgettably uninventive. The aggressiveness of soundscape is refreshing for the band, but is perhaps not the right direction for this particular track. When a a similar aggression appears later during the frantic Ivory Tower, within which the band challenge the vitriolic online world, the amped-up, distorted guitars work better. I am still making up my mind to be honest with you. Perhaps this tonal change is necessary for those wishing for the energy and rashness of their lyrics to be reflected more so in their sound.
Next, the stunning Big Game begins, haunting your ears with Bladerunner-esque detuned synths, enveloping you in post-apocalyptic sound – particularly prevalent with its references to a childish Donald Trump. The latter half of the track is really where it bursts with flavour, pulling the strings of modern rock and playful time signatures. It’s all at once coarse and hopeful, and Higgs’ soft vocals play out soothingly with their tired yet rallying lyrics.
The rest of the album continues with this direction, remaining on the ‘right’ side of experimental without drowning in its own complexity. Good Shot, Good Soldier slides the album into a depressive state, followed neatly by the captivating lyrics of Run the Numbers and even the minimal, confessional New Deep. Put Me Together and the leading track A Fever
Dream together drive the progressive, evolving, indie-ballad force behind the album. Particularly with A Fever Dream, the elements of their sound are continually deconstructed and reintroduced throughout, building to an beautifully balanced collection of sounds.
Towards its end, the tone darkens, reflecting the rise of polarized, western politics – cacophonic and emotional. Such a tone is further developed in one of the album’s darkest moments – White Whale, where complexity and the experimental are left behind, and the essence of the band is laid bare and loose; listen closely, and there’s even a sense of 80s prog rock.
Overall, A Fever Dream serves up a divine platter of quality indie-rock, plethoric in influence and loyal to fans of their unique sound. Tackling today’s most relevant topics, however dark, is done with both delicacy and abrasiveness. A talent Higgs has by no means lost. Its imperfections are few and far between; it is refreshing, nuanced and evolving aggressively. Much like the issues confronted by the band, the album is divided between the deeply heartfelt, and the wild. Cryptic and intelligent, twisting and mood-bending, Everything Everything (whilst an acquired taste) have returned to the scene with as much vitality as they arrived, proving it’s going to be a long time until their sound is silenced.