The Manchester group’s fifth record is out in August, with great promise
In culture, art that is sugary or glitzy, or draws upon mainstream appeal, is inherently looked down upon. It is seen wielding less artistic merit and philosophical importance than more explicitly experimental products. Many times, this is an appropriate assessment of industries which favour conveyer-belt methods of creation — but far from always, especially in music. Indeed, certain pop can be wildly creative and moving in the same way that even classical genres can be. This is not to say that there isn’t a fair share of derivative, uninventive and trend-preying material which plays a central role in the industry ecosystem, because there is. But once we overcome the fear of engaging in bright pop instrumentals and melodies typically associated with chart-toppers as a genuine means of expression for outfits and artists that harness it in an authentic way, there are going to be a lot more future classics to pitch to the masses.
Manchester outfit Everything Everything are perhaps a good example of this. The band are releasing RE-ANIMATOR — their fifth studio album — in August. And despite critical notice across the band’s discography (and some hits along the way), they continue to appear a group on the fringe of true acclaim and widespread commentative attention. I think this is a real shame, and blame can be attributed to the space they occupy: just a little too oddball for consistent radio attention (frontman Jonathan Higgs’ soaring falsetto and bizarro lyricism) and not quite “progressive” enough for internet snobs and critics to hail them as the next Radiohead and subsequently drum-up news and releases. Regardless, the forthcoming RE-ANIMATOR has featured an extremely exciting rollout of material, and deserves more buzz than it appears to be getting. The singles, accompanying visual art and intertwined lyricism have been deeply compelling — and worth discussion.
The group first debuted ‘In Birdsong’ back in April, and it is easily one of my favourite releases from the band to date. The grimy-sounding and often overbearing synths combined with glitchy pads and escalating sounds create a sense of constant motion, and there’s a sense of darkness to the song’s sometimes-idyllic sound. The lyrics imagine a protagonist who is becoming self-conscious for the first time and do so with the band’s typically excellent wordplay and evocation of imagery: “the slaughter in the sky”, “something in the white matter / someone in the white matter”. “I hear song in reverse, birdsong, song in reverse…” choruses Higgs, as a shimmering soundscape floods the song, culminating in a totally risen wall of sound. The sense of gravity brought from this song, especially as a lead a single, is infectious. The video released alongside the track is also fantastic, patiently taking us through a series of crumbling, crystallised figures and bizarre half-formed stimuli. It bolsters the dark feeling of discovery which the song channels, and stands in accompaniment of its themes as well as a radically intriguing piece of visual art. I love it.
The other single from RE-ANIMATOR is ‘Arch Enemy’, which has garnered less attention than its forerunner but stands up to it nonetheless. Once more, we see the band absolutely play to their strengths. Between deeply mixed horns, a killer hook and signature falsetto there also emerges a palpable sense of imagery concerning the song’s titular character; Higgs opens the song by walking through a series of metaphors designed to arouse disgust: “dinosaur, now awake / sphinx of grease, faceless bloat”. It’s extremely effective, and its juxtaposition with an upbeat instrumental makes the track’s undertone feel all the more impactful. Considering this against ‘In Birdsong’ also reveals compelling consistencies; again, the band take the song’s setting to quite a primitive and primal place, imagining the duality of the song’s narrator against something described as sickening and revolting. The themes present in both tunes, exploring human discovery of both basic and complex needs and ideas give a hell of a lot to chew on, and makes the material from this upcoming album feel incredibly promising on an aesthetic and thematic level. The video is deliciously weird, too.
RE-ANIMATOR deserves far more buzz than it seems to be getting. The lyrical and visual ideas played with by the band are wild and creative, and seem a perfect apex of their usual stylings. After 2017’s thematically heavy A Fever Dream, and 2015’s legendary Get to Heaven, I can’t wait to see where Everything Everything go next. The new record launches 21 August. My calendar is marked.