Updated: Jun 16
Explorative art brings with it an understanding that it may not always work, but when it all falls into place, it sincerely does; this is where you’ll find Everything Everything. Their electronic, rock sound is hard to fully tether, with each and every song owning eccentric energy, and listening to the masterful quartet is a divine experience that demands attention; the theatricality will not allow it to be used as a background wash. If you haven’t already, I urge you to seek out their back catalogue and soak it up.
This band was born out of like-minded souls Jonathan Higgs (vocals, guitars), and Jeremy Pritchard (bass), while studying at Salford University, with Michael Spearman (drums), and Alex Robertshaw (guitars, keyboards) joining the brotherhood along the way. Four albums of vast and textured material have earned them critical acclaim, as they compose intellectual music and lyrics that cover a spectrum of ideas: from political observations to post-apocalyptic plots, but never without accessibility. Last release A Fever Dream was nominated for the Mercury Prize- this was not the first time this happened for them- and used all of their greatest features.
August 2020 is the month when we gratefully receive the fifth studio album Re-Animator from our big thinkers, and it promises a chapter of change. Where finding unusual sonance has been the centre of attention in the past, this record has focused on the song, letting the melodies take charge. Jeremy expands,
“If you want to link it to anything we’ve done before, there’s a regained innocence and wonderment that was on our first record, and the colour of it is similar. The three albums that followed were about looking at the state of the world, and this one again is about. Well, yeah, wonderment is the word that keeps coming up.”
It enabled the band to feel refreshed, invigorated, and ready to share, telling stories as only EE can, but then our existence took a turn that was hard to predict. Due to Coronavirus and the change to everyone’s lives, the boys felt it was right to offer the track Birdsong from the forthcoming LP.
“Birdsong has accompanied human life since before we were even human, but, in the recent century, it has been obscured or pushed out of our lives. In the song, I talk about hearing birdsong and knowing we are conscious and alive. With fewer cars and planes, and less human intervention generally, we’ve all been given the opportunity to reconnect with resurgent nature, and where we all are, for this brief moment - in Birdsong.” Jonathon illustrates.
With art being so fundamental to the four, they have always been hands-on with the visual side of things too. Ten years ago, Higgs used to make the videos for the tracks himself, including Photoshop Handsome, amongst others, which got remade later. At the moment, a conventional video was just not possible, so in a short space of time, he discovered some high-tech computerised animation and independently created Birdsong. It should be sited that Las Vegas giants The Killers recently tweeted ‘wonderful wonderful’ about the stellar efforts.
The result, which was never in question, is mesmerising and invites you to interpret a meaning that is true to you. Covering all walks of life, the people created in the animation are often distorted and always frozen, sometimes cocooned by varying substances. This represents lockdown, where it seems that we cannot plan for the future or move forward as it's so uncertain. A man’s arms are held up in the air giving the impression that he is surrendering. In front of him is a giant, spiderlike creature that could be his fear and a metaphor for our own. He also could be declaring how our situation has levelled us out and enabled us to connect in different ways. A poignant moment is a couple embracing, whilst a fiery, orange colour occupies the sky. Other elements like water and earth are distorted, bringing it that home that how we perceive our world has changed.
An irregular heartbeat runs through the song, linking it to life, and Higgs’ voice is as compelling as ever using that distinctive falsetto that leads the way. The tune rises and falls with the sci-fi tones of the synth, and the organ bass adds to its spiritual vibe. Dystopian worlds are created in the visuals using a scrumptious colour pallet and warped constructions. The piece ends with the four EE boys knee-deep in the sand on the desert, and you never find out if they manage to escape. The picture pans out, and they are standing on a fox; maybe this is referring to their first album cover, Man Alive, signifying a re-birth. It’s clear to see why they released the song and video recently, and for want of a better word, it is beautiful.
The introduction to their new direction continues with the brand new single Arch Enemy. It is entirely different from Birdsong; it’s a banging tune: loud, dynamic with a funky rhythm. The chorus is vastly memorable, and it builds with its savvy guitar work to one of the best song endings I have heard in quite a while. However, don’t let the playful beat fool you, as Jonathon explains, the lyrics pack a punch.
“Arch Enemy’ sees a modern-day protagonist searching for a meaningful God. Finding only a congregation of greed, toxicity, and waste, in the form of a sentient fatberg in the sewer, he duly prays to it, willing it to purge the decadent world above that has created it. These growing grease mountains are a curious juxtaposition of the modern and the ancient; a brand new example of archaic squalor.”
So from fat child in a pushchair, we go to Fatberg in a sewer in this brilliantly bizarre video. Higgs directs this time, working with an old school pal to create this grotesque creature of grease and rubbish that lurks underground in cities like London and New York, and only thrives with the modern materials our world throws away. Fatberg is worshiped as a deity, his ego is fattened, until the whole congregation joins together in unison and erupts through the manhole, oozing through the landscape and taking over. This could symbolise how we control our thoughts and what you feed your mind will ultimately be what vibrations you put out; it's easy for things to manifest, but it must be light over dark.
The two contributions of Birdsong and Arch Enemy play their part on Re-Animator, where we are going to find energetic pop with Lost Powers, dance floor beats for Big Climb, and a new anthem in Violet Sun. There's more than enough to get enthused for August 21st for sure. Everything Everything genuinely moves me. I’m moved by the music first and foremost, but also the philosophy, the luminosity, the drama, the emotion; it is art. In some ways, it's a shame that I only discovered them recently, but as with all timeless creations, it’s never too late. It also gives me a whole discography to absorb and collect. It’s worth it.
Article by Beverley Knight