There's not the slightest linger of second album syndrome for Arc, Everything Everything's second full length offering; instead, it's a similarly eclectic yet more mature offering during which the band appeal to dancing feet with their usual electronic geekery, whilst also capturing a darker feel.
To start, lead single 'Cough Cough' weaves vocal samples in with drums to create a percussive accompaniment to the distinctive 'spat out' melody; it's quite an empty beginning, void of instruments and depth to start with before synths layer into the mix. There's a menacing bite to 'Cough Cough' which, though it's contrasted by a more spacey chorus, heralds the start of what is to come from much of Everything Everything's second album. Apparently a Native American term of endearment, 'Kemosabe' opens with more of the same synth and sample constructed percussion and builds into a soaring falsetto chorus melody over a funky pop beat. 'Torso Of The Week' begins a more sedate affair and builds with intricately woven guitar parts, alarming falsetto and uneasy tonality that draws from the influence of Radiohead, which is contrasted by a more 'pop' chorus. A string backed ballad with more of the heart wrenching and less of the angry and easy, 'Duet' follows changing the vibe yet again. Even in the eclectic opening quartet of tracks, Everything Everything give us variety in complete extremes; the confidence to sound the funky pop beat of 'Kemosabe' alongside 'Torso Of The Week' which nods to the uneasy tonality of Radiohead.
Echoing in the vein of The XX, for example, with 'Choice Mountain', Everything Everything blend piano backed balladry with a refusal to step away from their electro pop comfort zone, but the track then pushes to a reverb ridden guitar-backed section that offers a glimmer at the transcendental likes of Sigur Ros; successfully mixing brooding echoing melodies with an urban electro pop fuzz. 'Feet For Hands' continues similarly opening with the angst of an acoustic guitar backed singer songwriter, though later again refusing to leave the electronics aside. 'Undrowned' meanwhile opens with an organ keyboard sound and continues in lilting melancholy backed by interweaving undulating guitars and a more gentle and sombre sound before eventually building with drums and dying out to a 'True Love Waits' ending. The title track of this offering sounds atmospheric strings and gentle drums building to layered echoing vocal parts; another brief glimmer of the sublimely beautiful. Then, completely the opposite, it's Frankmusik that springs to mind with 'Armourland'; synth ridden with a typical beat and a good old honest pop love song. 'The House Is Dust' slows the tempo right back down with throbbing melancholy drums and low synths, and we're back to the moody vibe of the likes of Hurts, before dying out to a gentle piano-backed conclusion. It's definitely to be said that Arc offers more drama and intensity than the playful-ness we heard on Man Alive, Everything Everything's 2010-released debut.
When really looking for a little to criticise, something irksome rests in a tendency towards familiarity in Everything Everything's melodies, phrases of which seem to quote from each other or from their back catalogue; phrases from 'Radiant', for example, seem remarkably similar to the opening track. That said, however, each track stands in its own right; nothing is filler and Arc maintains interest throughout; it's a much more mature offering than Everything Everything's previous, particularly with the likes of the gentle, piano-backed 'The Peaks, which sensitively showcases their trademark falsetto vocals in an atmospheric setting.
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