Review of Get To Heaven Album by Everything Everything

Everything Everything's arrival in 2009 came via 'My Kz Yr Bf', a song which gave critics much leeway in comparatives. Based on its poly-rhythmic, twitchy math pop body and almost perfect euphoria soaked chorus, it was easy to sum up their hybrid appeal, or so it seemed: Sparks doing Slint whilst digging Late of The Pier? Maybe. Foals, without all the prissy, complicated abstractions? Sure. A universe apart from almost anything in their time zone? Definitely.

Everything Everything Get To Heaven Album

Clearly this freshly minted feeling of intellectual hair down was going to attract some comments about the clip of the foursome, but then again any outfit that gives their work titles like 'Photoshop Handsome' and 'Suffragette Suffragette' is apparently willing to stick their neck out for shapes being busted in Iambic Pentameter. A second album, 2013's 'Arc', underlined the ability of singer-songwriter Johnathan Higgs as an individual capable of fusing the realness of both art and emotion together seamlessly, a voice of conscience which placed the band into a category in which other Great British Avant Goodists such as XTC, Roxy Music and Radiohead had carved a similarly idiosyncratic niche.

The build up to 'Get To Heaven''s recording proved to be something of a tortuous process for Higgs, who had spent it absorbing some of the atrocities of our modern 24 hour news existence as connected directly into our lives via TV and computer. Building this kind of mental library can have a de-humanising effect on anyone, but the mental strafing turns itself into verbal ammunition on opener 'Blast Doors', on which the singer reframes the word play of Dylan's 'Subterranean Homesick Blues' in extremis. In one of its rare sedentary moments, Higgs gargles, "I can smell your fingerprints all over my computer": It's one of the album's signature moments, intimacy and paranoia on a knife edge, the twitching curtains of the psyche turning the outside world in.

Despite all the iconoclasm, we are relieved that they can still do pop - or at least their own idiosyncratic take on it - effortlessly, as it happens. The hook laden 'Distant Past' bouncing playfully, dance music for the resolutely awkward, whilst the title track is joyous and upbeat, Higgs' falsetto harmonies contrasting with some more erudite post-Afro beat guitars. There is, however, an element of self-sabotage to his work: obliquely we touch on subject matter which would normally be considered off limits, such as the ISIS bound absconding teenagers of 'Sirens', or questionable appeal of UKIP leader Nigel Farage on 'The Wheel (Is Turning Now)'. To his credit, most of the songs remain potent despite the obvious threat of them becoming polemical.

Does it all work? Hell no. But it fails not by collapse into lazy mediocrity - but instead because 'Get To Heaven' is too ambitious and complicated for its own good, unable to resolve its differences and the work of a band almost bug-eyed with untapped energy. This means that songs like 'Warm Healer' are oddly juxtaposed moments of tranquility and introspection, whilst 'Zero Pharoah''s talk of guns, survival and making it out alive are ciphers in the forefront of a work that always threatens to explode into a thousand pieces before leaving the listener abruptly on a single note. Only once is there a total over-reach,  the sardonic dryness of 'No Reptiles' taking the rosette for obscurity in prose (some feat here) whilst its programmed skitters leave the impression of an idea which sounded far better when on the drawing board.

Not the masterpiece it's been hailed as in some quarters, Everything Everything's third album leaves them and their singer's dystopian daymares in something of a glorious rut. True they represent most of what's good in intelligent, cliche-free anti-rock in 2015, but too often 'Get To Heaven' seems content to skirt the issues - and greatness - instead feinting, drawing back from delivering the empirical work the band are clearly capable of.  Destiny's mild then, but for now, we wait.


Andy Peterson

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