Record Label: Sony
The Manchester quartet's bleak outlook on the future of the human race is sometimes beautiful, but sometimes too unfocused to be memorable
The problem with creativity, or the attempt to be creative, is that it inadvertedly gets linked hand in hand with pretension. This was an issue that Manchester art- poppers Everything Everything experienced within the criticism of their 2010 debut “Man Alive.” So exhausting were their bunny hopping genre antics and undecipherable lyrical prose that the critical backlash heavily featured the line that they seemed to be trying a little bit too hard.
“Arc” sees Everything Everything start to find their own niche to a certain extent. They’ve still got those central aspects that their debut utilized in abundance; intricate guitar lines, ever- evolving and rolling drum patterns and gorgeous harmonies. It’s safe to say though that on “Arc” it sounds like the band have found better grounding for their creative juices, a more accessible platform within which all their ideas sound more at home, even if at some points it still feels like the band are trying to fit too many ideas into a 3 minute song.
With a much more viable lyrical concept running throughout, the overall tone of “Arc” is incredibly bleak. It deals with the supposedly doomed future of the human race, and its chief sentiment is that said doom is irreversible and terrifying. Opener “Cough Cough” marries demonic, tribal drum patterns with heavenly harmonies and post- rock spaciousness in the chorus, a testimony to the band finding a way to make their ideas work musically. “Kemosabe” is a gorgeous electro ballad in which frontman Jonathan Higgs makes the assertion that “it doesn’t matter if everyone dies” before sounding genuinely lonely as he wails in his soaring falsetto “I am alone” in the chorus.
On the glistening riffage and bleepery of “Radiant” the unnamed doom of our time is upon us, as Higgs urges us “Go, leave your homes/ take whatever you can/ it’s coming towards you.” The stunning “The Peaks” is effective in its cause to move and act almost as a moment of realisation. “I’ve seen more villages burn than animals born/ I’ve seen more towers come down than children grow old” coos Higgs with an air of fragility and a frightening bleak outlook on what’s to come.
However, there are still signs here that the band are not completely devoid of their overwhelming ADHD tendencies. “Torso of the Week” comes closest to the whimsy of their debut, as it opens up on the line “Girl you’ve been hitting that treadmill like a freak” before embarking on a bridge and chorus that are completely at odds with the verse musically. “Choice Mountain” sounds equally as dysfunctional with its fusion of Wild Beasts- esque tight- knit riffing and clangy chords. The case with slow- burner “The House is Dust” is just that it fails to be interesting.
The ideas are definitely still in abundance on “Arc”, and when they find strong footing and resound together it results in gorgeously anthemic and moving results. However, the poorer moments here are just so disjointed that they simply don’t work, or don’t maintain the interest that the most profound moments on here do. Everything Everything have the capacity to make a potentially incredible album. They just need to realise that the most impacting records aren’t always the most intelligent.
Key Tracks: The Peaks, Kemosabe, Radiant
For Fans of: Radiohead, Wild Beasts