Release Date: Jan 14, 2013
Record label: RCA
“There were reasons to get out of my bed” sings Jonathan Higgs at the start of Feet For Hands, quite reasonably. Then a second or so later, for no apparent reason, he adds “eh”, r’n’b style. Now look at Jonathan Higgs. Look at him. He’s there, on the top left of the album cover. Look ….
Everything Everything's 2010 debut, Man Alive, was dizzyingly ambitious – at times, too much so – with any given song seemingly containing more ideas than Stereophonics have mustered in their entire career to date. The follow-up starts in similar fashion, with recent single Cough Cough and Kemosabe both featuring kernels of pop gold beneath layer after layer of complexity. The second half of Arc, however, finds them on less challenging form, although with no hint of them reining in their intelligence.
It’s last Thursday and I am in the subway vehicle. The woman next to me smells of soap and chocolate. She wears boots made of some animal rug and her book’s cover has too many colours. With damp indifference, maybe to reciprocate my judgement or something, her lungs kick out, causing massive spasmodic bodily contortion.
The first single to be released from Everything Everything's second album, Arc, kicks off with a finger-wag at the deadening effect of extreme consumerism: "Sold your liver, but you still feel in the red/ Sold my feelings now I'm hanging by a thread. " The sentiment might seem a bit rich coming from a band whose debut album, Man Alive, ricocheted between advertising hoarding-style proclamations like a rubberized pinball bouncing off Flubberized bumpers: If song titles like "MY KZ, YR BF", "Qwerty Finger", and "Photoshop Handsome" weren't a strong enough allusion to brief attention spans, then the agitated, yelpy hairpin nature of the material implied that, true to their name, Everything Everything were not men of singular focus. Probably as many people hated them for it as became slavishly, delightedly addicted.
Everything Everything were a band in need of a good lie down. Their debut album, Man Alive, was in parts playful and poppy yet, like a hyperactive child, you often wanted to lock them in their room for a few hours until they had learned to speak calmly and clearly. They seem to admit as much, making clear their intentions to aim for the heart more than the head here (they loosened themselves up by recording drunk, they claim).
It may resemble a collage of mugshots from Crimewatch’s Rogues Gallery, but the image you’re staring at in disbelief is actually the cover of Everything Everything’s second album, Arc. Pretty ghastly, isn’t it? To be brutally honest with you, I had been fully expecting to tear into Arc’s contents, too, suspecting its lousy art direction was merely the tip of the Manchester quartet’s bad decision iceberg. I can still recall my excitement back when early single Suffragette Suffragette marked Everything Everything out as a young band with potential, and subsequently my disappointment when this failed to materialise on their overrated debut album, Man Alive.
Everything Everything, the Mancunian four-piece with a bandolier of undecipherable lyrics, jittery caffeine-hyped axe licks and relentless falsetto made waves back in 2010 with their phenomenal, intelligent math-indie debut, Man Alive. Breaking the album charts and scoring a Mercury nomination is always pretty big news – not least when your record is one of the hardest to follow LPs of recent years. It was a glorious, angular mess of ADD cheekiness, insatiable melodies and nonsensical (to anyone but prime songsmith Jonathan Higgs) lines about Faraday cages and patriarchal statues.
Everything Everything made themselves known with their adventurous debut, ‘Man Alive’, delighting and confusing with their Beyoncé-meets-barbershop singing of mondegreen lyrics about sitting on the fence (or was that face?). But this time, things are different. ‘Arc’ sees a stripped-back, ‘more accessible’ band.But don’t fret - if you know EE, you’ll know we’re not talking a record of acoustic ballads.
Manchester math-poppers move towards the mainstream on this second album. Paul Lester 2013 There used to be talk of “that difficult second album” for British indie bands, but a more recent syndrome has been the follow-up to the tentative debut that signals an artistic and commercial breakthrough. Everything Everything have returned with an album that finds them calming down their madly jerky math-pop in a considered bid for the mainstream, one designed to capitalise on the top 20 success of their 2010 debut – and Mercury Prize nominee – Man Alive.