Everything Everything – Man Alive (Geffen) 30/08/2010

August 29, 2010 by  

With such a range of styles and ideas this record should sound misguided and cluttered, yet it constantly surprises and thrills, and is an absolute work of genius.

Everything Everything’s music harks to the past whilst embracing the future, challenging the modern pop song formula with operatic vocals one second, close harmonies the next and then full blown choruses, all whilst covering a wide range of musical styles you wouldn’t necessarily think a Rock band would.

At first glance the song titles on ‘Man Alive’, with the likes of ‘MY KZ, UR BF’, ‘QWERTY Finger’, and ‘Suffragette Suffragette’ you would be forgiven for thinking that Everything Everything might be a little pretentious. However, this would be a critical error, because persevere with this album and you won’t be disappointed, as what transpires is an inventive album bristling with melody.

Enter their world and you will be treated with a sumptuous feast for the ears. First track ‘MY KZ, UR BF’ sums up what the band are about perfectly, with its spacey synth pop backing and operatic vocals. Opening rapidly, the track changes its tempo and style altogether, with its syncopated rhythms and three part harmonies leading you up to its belting chorus, which when it hits is sublime. This all the while the lyrics relate to an R&B star’s traumatic experience during an air raid. Confused? Well this is exactly what the band are about, confounding expectations.

‘QWERTY Finger’ follows suit, starting off with a solo guitar before becoming a synth heavy number, with high pitched vocals over the top. A clever whistle provides the background for ‘Schooling’, complete with stabs of synth that could almost be another Hot Chip ‘Boy From school’, but the track, like others, cannot be easily categorised. Although it features synths at the start by the end it has become an R&B style track complete with soul undertones.

The band are not just about the heavier numbers either, they can also do soft just as well.‘Leave The Engine Room’, with its ’70s influenced chords and folk styles, as well as ‘Two For Nero’s show their mellower moments are at times quite spellbinding.

However, the track that they really impresses is ‘Photoshop Handsome’, with its high pitched vocals, synths and guitar heavy backing. Floating over the top is lead vocalist Jonathan, who sings about peoples’ obsession with beauty, in a playful tone, as he shrieks ‘Come Up with Something Organic’ you can almost visualise the accompanying video to this song, it’s absolute genius and a master-class in song-writing. Also just as good is ‘Suffragette Suffragette’, with its math-rock rhythms colliding with heavy riffs which come out of nowhere, as Jonathan’s acrobatic vocals collide with a heavy melodic rock accompaniment, it’s nothing short of brilliant.

‘Come on Diana’ is also worth a mention. It’s a track that could’ve sounded heavy or a complete misfire, yet it sounds relevant and emotional. The combination of vocals and guitars is breathtakingly beautiful and the chorus is something else. As lead singer Jonathan sings ‘regular regular liberty belle’ towards the end it is a genuinely heartbreaking moment.

Over these 12 tracks of twists and turns one does have a feeling of Déjà vu, like you’ve heard this music before. It’s almost like ‘Man Alive’ is a record that distils everything from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. However, familiarity is not necessarily a negative here. Although the band are influenced by classic rock as well as current artists and genres, with their musical intellect they have the ability to construct tunes that sound contemporary and fresh.

Whether you enjoy this release may depend on your feeling toward high pitched vocals, which at times do veer on the camp side, and the complex structures of the songs can be disorientating at times as well as the lyrical obtuseness. However, this is a minor gripe as the band compensates for this with their prodigious songwriting talent and glorious melodies, which, credit to the band, never become monotonous.

With their intelligence and breathtaking future pop Everything Everything may have just produced the début album of the year.

[rating:5]


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