Everything Everything – Arc
- By Dan Alland -
- Jan 15, 2013
Everything Everything isn't a name – it's an attitude. I just imagine that when the band was originally conceived, they brainstormed all the possible genres, techniques and ideas that were available to them - they are, after all, incredibly accomplished musicians, capable of pulling any musical rabbit out of their magic hat – and so their palpable excitement to show the world what they could do told them to play Everything. So much so that they did Everything twice. This culminated in quite possibly one of the maddest albums to hit the mainstream this century. 'Man Alive' had some really quite catchy elements to it; but the temptation to throw everything they could in there was too great. So the album could only be fully understood by prog-heads, Adderall addicts and psychopaths.
Their difficult second album, 'Arc', starts with some difficulty. 'Cough Cough', the first single from the album, opens with an annoying gadfly hook literally coughing into your ear. It's not till the drums and guitars roll in that you think, well, maybe we might have something here. And indeed we do. Inventive, syncopated drumming and textured, melodic guitars stops the CD from being launched out of the window – or dragged into the recycle bin, if you're listening on MP3.
'Kemosabe' is next; another multi-layered mishmash of quirky riffs, disjointed rhythms and altitudinous vocals that we've come to know from the Everything lads. But there is a subtle progression; a Bloc Party-esque pulse that runs through the tune: steady through the verses, quickening in pace as the chorus approaches, and then - instead of the erratic palpitations of Man Alive - a steady, uplifting beat that sounds like a record that's not just growing in health, but a band that's growing in maturity, and rapidly.
'Torso of the Week' rolls in at track three. An amusing social commentary - downright blatant in its disdain for the preening and the pampered - that casts a wry eye at the sheer vacuousness of the ideals required to get to the top of the social ladder. 'Duet', however, is just plain disingenuous; with its “epic” classical instrumentation that wouldn't sound out of place on Coldplay record, or on something as equally lazy and conceited. Everything Everything sound like they're in the grips of the paymasters now; which isn't always a bad thing on the ears, but they keep reverting to their experimental ways, leaving a product marinated in confusion. However, when 'Undrowned' drops, we're reminded of how melodic and lyrical the band can occasionally be when they strip things back. It has a lot in common with one of their earliest tracks – the spine-shivering 'Tin'.
The rest of the album seems to plod along at pace that can only be described as pedestrian. They've dropped all of the dynamics they once thrived on, in an attempt to try and make themselves more palatable. But I would argue that this has had the reverse effect, because it has focused the listener's ear onto the band's melodies; that are – while thoroughly unique – not easy to digest. And as long as Jonathan Everything insists on singing in his inimically bonkers way, the masses aren't going to come back for thirds. So I for one hope that Everything Everything turn the idiosyncrasies back up to 11 for their third album, and become the acclaimed neo-prog band they were destined to be.
This guest blog complies to Virgin.com terms & conditions.