Author Topic: Everything Everything  (Read 4946 times)

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children with angels

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Everything Everything
« on: August 31, 2010, 07:12:34 PM »
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I seems pretty rare to start a new thread for a band these days, but I think Everything Everything deserve it. It's also an excuse for me to get some thoughts down about them, which might lead me to write something more coherent at some point. This band can be pretty divisive (Jonathan Higgs' voice in particular is a litmus test), so I'm very aware that they aren't going to do it for everyone, but I think for some of you they really, really should. (I know Pete, RK, and of course JB [who originally brought them to my attention] are already on board...)

So: enough debate about Arcade Fire and TV On The Radio: these guys are the real deal! In a way, I jest - I like both those bands a lot - but in another way, I actually don't. John was complaining that Arcade Fire don't seem "sonically adventurous" anymore, and this is certainly not a criticism you could level at Everything Everything. "Fresh" is the word that keeps being repeated by fans and critics - and while it's already seeming overused, it's a term that can't help but push its way to the forefront of your brain when listening to Man Alive. On a first listen it keeps surprising at every turn - shifting tone, mood, genre, frames of reference - often in the space of one song.

A few introductory tracks -

MY KZ UR BF:
Schoolin':
Tin (The Manhole):

Sometimes they seem to be carrying on from where Radiohead left off at Kid A, other times they're cribbing delivery styles from R Kelly. Occasionally they'll be mining (relatively) contemporary post-punk-ish indie like Bloc Party or Interpol, but then they'll also come out with something that seems indebted to Prince. At moments they're funky-yet-cold like Talking Heads, at other moments they're genuinely rocking out with a riff that could have come from Queens of the Stone Age (this is one of the things that sets them apart from some other recent ambitious bands like, say, Animal Collective - they are often genuinely dedicated to getting you to shake your ass: be it like you're in an R&B club or a rock dive). Sometimes playful, sometimes deadly serious, sometimes intimate, sometimes stadium. But, while they're clearly consciously combining and screwing with a million musical conventions, they never appear to be doing it opportunistically: none of it is pastiche - it's all organically integrated. They blend and hop between genres in a way that is genuinely, movingly IMAGINATIVE. That, if anything, should be the buzzword attached to Man Alive.

But all this wouldn't amount to much worthwhile if it wasn't all channelled through genuinely skillful songwriting, but my god it is - and here again 'imaginative' seems the best word to reach for. As someone who has real trouble coming up with interesting vocal melodies, the way these lines are structured and delivered is truly awe-inspiring, managing to be at once extremely complex and (at least after a couple of listens) totally infectious. These songs are both difficult like prog and catchy like pop - a balance many bands strive for, but few properly achieve. The lyrics too repay serious attention (JB already gave them some in the "this is a really good song" thread). Sometimes they can seem willfully obtuse (this, if anything, might be my only criticism at the moment), but it's equally possible that the most tricky ones will open up their meanings after more listens. And anyway, do we always need coherent meanings? Maybe not, when you can come up with imagery as evocative as "Chasing homeless cheerleaders through the sewer, lit by burning polythene bags / Pushing flame-scorched limos to the oil rig for the promenade dance" (from 'Nasa is on Your Side').

But nevertheless consistent themes tentatively emerge. There's definitely a good helping of the guilt that comes with being a contemporary Westerner (Querty Finger, Leave The Engine Room) - the references to wars, oil, bad fathers. Also running through the album is a need to put the frivolities of modern existence in a pressurized or desperate context - as we see in the lyrics above, and most obviously in MY KZ UR BF (which the band has described as being about "what it would be like to try and have any kind of normal relationship if your country was being bombed constantly by an occupying nation, from the point of view of a self-obsessed, post-traumatic stress disordered R&B lothario"). To me, this theme seems to be reflected too in the constant contrasting of musical styles: subjecting pop to clashes with experimental approaches that threaten to tear it apart (and never quite managing it - despite the grandiloquence of my claims, this album is actually FUN!). At base there's also a recurring, humming interest in the good old-fashioned idea of nature's place in our technocratic world - both in terms of the human body (cerebellum, pheremones, sinews, severed torsos) and wildlife ("A little sea anemone, pool of rocks... Could there be a more heavenly artefact, as pure as that?"). In this sense the foxes that crop up in the lyrics and in the artwork are a perfect image for the album: wild creatures that have adapted to live in cities.

So finally, a reward for reading this far... Pete and RK have alerted me to the fact that you can't yet buy the album in the U.S. other than through import. I so want to spread the word about this band, so here's my link to a zip for it: http://www.mediafire.com/?ml9w7k60pr4ts06. I do this in the hopes that - if you like it - you'll buy it when it becomes available, because they're still a pretty small band and they deserve our support! As I say - I know they won't be for everyone, but if some of you dig them even half as much as I do, then that'll be worth it.
"Should I bring my own chains?"
"We always do..."

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RegularKarate

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Re: Everything Everything
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2010, 01:13:54 PM »
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Thanks so much CWA!  This has probably been the most anticipated album for me since "In Rainbows".

When I listen to music, I listen the actual music and the emotional tone in the vocals, but I practically ignore the lyrics until I've heard it a few times.  I don't know why exactly, it's just how my brain works (it's also how I end up listening to a bunch of crap before I realize how bad the lyrics are on some music).

With the exception of the three singles I've had for a while (MY KZ UR BF, Schoolin, and Suffragette Suffragette), I'm still at this stage for this album.  I don't care what the lyrics are yet, I just care how the expression and the music makes me feel.  Once I get to the lyrics, I'll be able to really make a decision on the record.

So far though... it's exactly what I wanted.  It makes me feel and it makes me move.

children with angels

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Re: Everything Everything
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2010, 06:02:16 PM »
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Oh, I'm totally with you on soaking up the feel and emotions before you get onto the lyrics - and that's definitely how I started with Everything Everything too. But I've listened to this album an absurd number of times already (I'm having to ration myself!), so I'm starting to think about this stuff. Really glad you're enjoying it!
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Pubrick

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Re: Everything Everything
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2010, 01:04:18 AM »
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stolen and burned.

can't wait to play it next time i have to drive somewhere (the only time i ever listen to music).

what sold me was your justification for the foxes and the hybrid descriptions of their sound.
under the paving stones.

jerome

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Re: Everything Everything
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2010, 06:58:12 AM »
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wow thanks, i had never heard of them. great stuff.

Ravi

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Re: Everything Everything
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2010, 12:42:01 AM »
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I've only listened to this 1.5 times, but I like it so far.  Thanks for the download link.

Jeremy Blackman

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Re: Everything Everything
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2010, 12:45:55 AM »
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I only recently remembered Everything Everything and had enough sense to check if they had an album out yet. Sure enough, here it is, and I can't stop listening to it. I pretty much had to force myself to put it down to avoid burnout.

On the first listen, My Keys remained the standout track, with everything else being less interesting, perhaps over-experimental, not quite catching on. After the next listen, and the next, some other tracks quickly emerged as favorites. This is how I'd rank them right now:

pretty much the best song ever
My Keys, Your Boyfriend
Leave The Engine Room
NASA Is On Your Side
Weights

amazing
Final Form
Schoolin'
Sufragette Sufragette
Tin (The Manhole)

good
Photoshop Handsome
Two For Nero

sort of annoying
Qwerty Finger


I've already expressed my love for My Keys, and it remains a great song. I was wrong about some of the lyrics, but it was basically stuff you never could have guessed. The British accents plus a potpourri of general oddness made it a losing battle. You can see the lyrics here on their official website. (Seriously, how in the world was I supposed to figure out "it's a real spanner into my works I think I kicked the bucket" or "do believe it will be business inside?")

Speaking of lyrics, I love how they slyly omit the chorus for Suffragette Suffragette. I love it. Also a nearly perfect pop song all-around, from the guitar work to the incredible hook. (I find this song stuck in my head more than any of the others.)

The first new tracks that I really latched onto were Leave The Engine Room and NASA Is On Your Side. Both mindblowingly beautiful. I love them to death. With Engine Room, I especially love what happens around 2:00-2:30. Also can't get over the chorus ("all the boys say you did it, and all the girls say you did it"). Not sure what can be said about NASA... the whole thing is pure gold.

Recently growing on me are Final Form (it's a subtle grower) and Come Alive Diana (absolutely love the horns in the second half).

Weights is a worthy album-ender. It may be a bit lofty, but the "I know how it ends" refrain totally works for me, especially with the prog rock time signature playfulness.

Hate to end this section on a down note, but I would like Qwerty Finger to be deleted from the album. I can't find redeeming qualities in this song. Even the slow bit midway through is barely tolerable. A strange aberration on an otherwise amazing album.

I haven't read too many comparisons, but to me, they sound like a perfect hybrid of the following:

Radiohead
Much of the quieter stuff sounds like something you'd hear on In Rainbows, especially Final Form, Tin (The Manhole), and Leave The Engine Room. Weights has a classic Radiohead structure, with a bit of Mogwai (circa Happy Songs For Happy People) mixed in. With 4 tracks, I'd say Radiohead wins out.

Mew
Mostly it's the drums (which I love) and the dream-pop synths that make this album a dead ringer (as they say) for Mew in many places. NASA Is On Your Side sounds a lot like a Mew track to me. My Keys is like a highly-evolved Mew track. On the rougher end of things, Qwerty Finger sounds like a Mew track that just didn't work. (Those do exist.)

Wild Beasts
The falsetto is the obvious comparison, though I'd argue Jonathan's is less wild, so to speak. The guitar in the verses of Suffragette Suffragette (which makes some appearances in other songs) sounds just like Wild Beasts (mostly from Limbo, Panto). A little like Foals, but mostly Wild Beasts.


I hear some Queen in their more flamboyant harmonies. Photoshop Handsome could basically be a Kaiser Chiefs song. (Probably unintentional, though.) I do hear a little Interpol (the beginning of Come Alive Diana), but barely any TV On The Radio or Arcade Fire. Some people are even comparing them to Coldplay, which is pretty absurd. (Hey, it's a British guy who does falsetto! Basically identical!)

And yet, their musical invention is so rich, and their songwriting is so good, that despite all the various spottable influences, it all sounds "fresh," as they say, thoroughly inventive, and generally full of life. These guys already seem at the top of their game with their debut album.

Jonathan's voice doesn't bother me at all. In fact, it didn't take much for me to get quite attached. It can be beautiful. (This should be evidence enough of that.) It's rare to find a falsetto that truly works. And I am one to get easily annoyed by certain vocals (speaking of TV On The Radio). It's the main reason I could never enjoy The XX. And yet I like Wild Beasts and La Roux, so go figure.

At the moment, I don't see how this could not be my favorite album of the year. Most of the albums I've anticipated have disappointed me, so this one is quite satisfying.
"Hunger is the purest sin"

RegularKarate

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Re: Everything Everything
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2010, 01:12:08 PM »
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I couldn't disagree more about Qwerty Finger!

It's one of the songs that makes me move the most.  I love the drums and the opening hook then when the song breaks down, I love the screaming, high-pitched "OH YEAH!", it builds up so perfectly to jump right back into the magic dancery.

If anything Leave the Engine Room is a little boring.

Jeremy Blackman

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Re: Everything Everything
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2010, 01:33:54 PM »
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Blasphemy!
"Hunger is the purest sin"

children with angels

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Re: Everything Everything
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2010, 04:37:22 AM »
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I'm with RK on Qwerty Finger - though I started out being put off by it (too brash, too conventional - comparatively) it's become one I return to most. That break-down-build-up is phenomenal, and the falsetto screams are just ABSURDLY joyous, particularly live.

Along with that, I'd say the ones I come back to with most regularity when not listening to the whole album through are Schoolin' (maybe the best all-round song on the album for me), Tin The Manhole (completely hypnotic), Two For Nero (that ending!), Final Form (if a more famous band had written this it would be topping indie charts), and of course MY KEYS.
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polkablues

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Re: Everything Everything
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2010, 02:02:48 AM »
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I really wasn't connecting to it the first few times I tried to listen to them, but after seeing how much Pitchfork hated their album, I realized I had to be missing something, so I went back to youtube and listened to MY KZ, UR BF a couple times, and damned if it hasn't grown on me.  I do love a good barely-restrained falsetto.  I'll go off and listen to some of the other songs now and make sure it wasn't a fluke.
Now you're in the *spoiler* place.

Gamblour.

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Re: Everything Everything
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2010, 09:01:59 PM »
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Thank you thank you for posting about this band. I'm completely in love, and Pitchfork has it so fucking wrong it's hilarious.
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children with angels

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Re: Everything Everything
« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2010, 05:00:21 AM »
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Excellent! Glad to hear there have been some more converts. This is without a doubt the album of the year for me. Have the people who've been making their best-of-the-year lists perhaps not heard it...!? That seems the only logical explanation.

Incidentally - the band recently did a couple of gigs with a 16-piece orchestra that they called the Man Alive Ensemble. One of the most enjoyable live shows I've been to in years. You can watch the whole gig here: http://livemusic.tid.es:8080/LMVideo/pc/live; or here's a less good-quality taster in the form of their reinterpretation of Suffragette Suffragette:
"Should I bring my own chains?"
"We always do..."

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Jeremy Blackman

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Re: Everything Everything
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2011, 12:01:08 PM »
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Have the people who've been making their best-of-the-year lists perhaps not heard it...!? That seems the only logical explanation.

American critics and music journalists are not always up on UK bands and foreign bands. We saw this in 2009 with Mew and to a lesser extent Bat For Lashes. In 2008 it happened to Wild Beasts, Kaiser Chiefs, and who knows how many others...
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children with angels

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Re: Everything Everything
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2011, 09:57:27 PM »
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I was meaning Xixax people - they have no excuse!
"Should I bring my own chains?"
"We always do..."

http://www.alternatetakes.co.uk/
http://thelesserfeat.blogspot.com/

 

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