CD: Everything Everything – Arc | New music reviews, news & interviews
CD: Everything Everything – Arc
Fidgety, exasperating second album from 2011 Mercury nominees
Up to this point it’s all gone swimmingly for Manchester-based quartet Everything Everything. Their debut album Man Alive charted high in the summer of 2010, but follow-up Arc is the test of whether they’re in for the long haul. Although the answer is largely in the hands of their strong fan base, the unfocused Arc suggests the band themselves aren’t sure of who they are.
It’s difficult to stand still while paddling furiously, but that’s what Arc sounds like – a band with a million-and-one ideas and no overriding sense of unity. Not only does it fail to take them beyond Man Alive, it dilutes what they were about.
Much feels familiar: Jonathan Higgs’ voice, like Peter Gabriel-meets-Thom Yorke; the ubiquitous post-Vampire Weekend west African touches; the twitchy, scratchy percussion and stabby keyboards of mid-Eighties crossover dance-pop. Opening cut “Cough Cough", issued as single last year, is the entry point. A bets-hedging almost-anthem, it suggests Everything Everything have stadia in their sights. Which would be fine if that was all they had on their minds; it might allow Arc to create a mood and reel in listeners. Instead, nothing is allowed to stay in one place for long, let alone outstay its welcome. Impressions flit past: “Duet”'s odd bits of Snow Patrol; “Feet For Hands” borrowing Muse’s drama; “Armourland”'s echo of Howard Jones.
By singing at the limit of his range, Higgs presumably intends to convey drama and emotion, but over a whole album the formula wears thin. The yearning “The House is Dust” is, however, allowed to follow its nose and consequently lingers. Decoupled from the album, individual tracks might make sense live - but as a whole Arc has no, well, arc.
Watch a suitably fragmented promo for Everything Everything’s Arc
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