Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Everything Everything 'Arc' - Album Review



Albert Einstein once said "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction." He also said "A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new." His words apply to his own career choices, the discoveries he made in the field of science, and the problems he tried to solve along the way. However, his wisdom can be applied to one of Britain's most scientific bands, Everything Everything. Clinically precise and imaginative in approach, the Mancunian based four piece have earnt a name for their frenetic, braniac indie that didn't quite sound like anything else. 

Having encountered lead single Cough Cough, one could be forgiven for assuming that Everything Everything were set on continuing on exemplifying their DNA thread of runaway drums, nonsensical lyrics and falsetto yelps. That they had discovered the formula, and were planning on bending it until it broke. It fast becomes apparent that this is not the case. If Cough Cough is ‘that eureka moment’ that ‘hits you like a cop car’, the rest of Arc is a series of more subtle experiments.

The songs tested on the bands mini tour back in November prove themselves to be the most comprehensive of the bunch in an album setting.  The 80’s glitter of Kemosabe  is an atom collision between Delphic and Cyndi Lauper, equal parts irritant and brilliance. Armourland holds similar hybrid tendencies, a vocal scrapbook of layers before undergoing ‘taking off the blindfold’ osmosis into a fluffy marshmallow of a chorus. 

All well and good, but when the energy decreases, the momentum of the record falls truly flat. The flabby middle indicated in the lyrics of third track Torso Of The Week continues throughout Choice Mountain, Feet For Hands, Undrowned and even title track Arc. They all hint at greatness, but come off a little bland for a band so clearly bursting with ideas.  

As if aware of threatening inertia, vocalist Jonathan Higgs ramps up his personality for Arc’s closing tracks. The Peaks displays a density previously unheard of in Everything Everything’s songwriting, a dystopic state of the world address that actually benefits from the lack of seam bursting production, floating and lamenting around a captivating vocal. Radiant is possibly their most ‘normal’ moment to date in terms of song structure, but it contains enough kinesthesis in its limbs as it builds to the magnesium-in-vinegar eruption of its chorus, Higgs singing ‘I see a Gieger counter, I see a Richter scale’ before regretfully admitting ‘I could make a difference so easy/ I could make a difference but I don’t.’ He plays the role of a frustrated mastermind well, and along with closer Don’t Try (an almost guaranteed future single) it makes for the most memorable moments on the record.

Although Arc may not be anything near a work of genius, they can at least be credited for not attempting to better the intelligence of their debut. Instead, they have directed their collective head at attempting to establish evolution. It is clear that they have consciously reigned themselves in, even perhaps taking notes from tourmates Coldplay in how to approach pop songwriting. Is domination what Everything Everything aiming for? In an industry that is based on natural selection, their remaining quirks should be enough to keep them in the food chain. With a bit more charge next time around, they could prove to be modern miracles. 

7/10

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