Thursday, 17 January 2013

Review: Everything Everything - Arc

The world would be a very sad place if there was no one that believed that songwriting and eccentricity were to go hand in hand. Ever since The Beatles made the wise choice of mixing songwriting with LSD, we've been graced with decades celebrating music of love and emotion that doesn't believe in convention. Without we'd be nowhere. Well, we definitely wouldn't have a quartet like Everything Everything certainly. And with this eccentricity, the band have up to now been thriving on under-the-radar success while picking up much critical appraise at the same time. They now return with their second album Arc, proving just how vital and celebrated a cause eccentricity still is.

Frontman Jonathan Higgs has on more than one occasion spoke of his love for crafting slick pop music with that reveals a diverse taste. It echoes throughout the album with the funk-ridden beats of Kemosabe and occasional uprising of fun-loving hip hop beats, presented well across Armourland which also boasts a brilliant '80's synthpop chorus.

These influences, plus much time listening to Radiohead at their most off the wall has clearly inspired much of the body of Arc. In it, lies the artists desire to make pop music without convention. It's to build up the kind of main rhythm on Duet that you'd usually hear in a night club using strings instead of synthesizers before making works of extreme drama with Unsound. Through swirling guitars and near hypnotic vocals, Higgs' performance is one of the first of the year to really grab you and make you listen to what it has to say.

And while dramatic, much of the band's lyrics are more immersed in a calmer more sophisticated form. Hopefully, many will admire Cough Cough's opening chant of "Yeah... So... Um... Wait a minute" which serves as something of an anthem for people as socially awkward as myself. Meanwhile Torso of the Week carries a modern day cheek in it's delivery as Higgs tells his girl "You've been hitting the treadmill like a freak.", before growing more smug and confident telling her "You're looking like you're bored with a husband." Lyrics of a more day-to-day social basis almost sounds out of place when put next to the musical backdrops and vocal performances that come off Sigur Ros-esque at times, and perhaps such simply figured lyrics next to such grandeur is like an introspective into the simplicity of modern life.

And it is a grand affair. It is art rock in it's purest form. And perhaps a problem with this is that while it summons up a such a strong sense of grandness and artistic radiance across the songs, much of the album leaves you feeling nothing first time round. It's a shame because you can tell how much effort the band has put into the songwriting, but it takes a good few listens and a good bit of patience before it really comes to mean something. In that way, much of Arc comes off as viewing a display in an art gallery that while being technically impressive, it's still difficult to naturally feel the sense of emotion the artist wanted to convey.

It's a bit of a blow frankly. While the musical out put of Arc is undeniably intelligent, well-crafted and eccentric enough to sound like the musical form of Attention Deficit Disorder syndrome, it feels lacking the all around likability factor that you could find on their debut Man Alive. Everything Everything are not going to win everyone over with this album. Certain music lovers will fall for it straight away, but the general public will find little hope. But then, the exact same kind of reaction was displayed almost 50 years ago when a certain Liverpudlian quartet began making their music more off the wall as well. And look where those albums are now.


Everything Everything's Arc is out now via Sony. The abnd will tour the UK in February and play at Field Day 2013 at Victoria Park, London on 25th May.

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