Everything Everything has always been a band that treads the fine line between grandiose displays of eccentric rock ready for heaving festival crowds, and smart, reclusive, ballad inspired classics fit for a small sweaty room filled with wine and scotch drinks. Being able to seamlessly meander across this spectrum of sound has enabled the Manchester four-piece to release a catalogue of music that has increasingly tested their fans’ ears as they ladle up layers of intricate musicianship and always razor-sharp lyrics.
Here on Re-animator, their fifth album, Everything Everything return once more with the attributes of what has made them an absolute must-see live act, albeit in a toned-down yet more emphatic way. What sets Re-animator apart from their four previous albums is the lack of that one instantly massive track; the ready for radio three and a half-minute banger. This isn’t to say Re-animator doesn’t have these moments; there just isn’t a track cut from the same thread as “Distant Past” or “Kemosabe”. While some may see this as a regression of the band, if anything, it’s a massive step forward. Not having to rely on instant hooks, the band have developed eleven tracks that showcase an increasing level of maturity from a band that’s always been on the precipice of doing so.
The instantly recognisable falsetto of frontman Jonathan Higgs, matched with his near rap style of delivering razor-sharp lyrics, is and always will be what helps set Everything Everything apart from other art-rock acts. The opening notes of “Lost Powers” is the melodic beauty you’ve come to expect from the band (most similarly seen on their Get to Heaven album). With its gradual build and crescendo, “Lost Powers” is a pleasant and subtle opener to Re-animator. Higgs’ rap skills make their first appearance in the opening verse of “Big Climb”, which is quickly followed by the gigantic “It Was a Monstering”. More than four and half minutes long, “It Was a Monstering” follows the tread of a traditional rock song, with the ever-present bass playing the hero throughout its run.
Re-animator‘s crowning moment is “Moonlight”. While it’s not the most instantly catchy moment on the album, it is the most fulfilling. With an understated cantering, matched with delicate guitar licks and rubber-stamped with Higgs’ vocals, it’s a victorious, sweet and simply fantastic moment on an already strong album. Written prior to COVID, the album doesn’t necessarily touch on the ongoing pandemic, but has instances where it could easily be construed to have been written about this time. “In Birdsong”, with its static tinged sombre nature, comments on a time where nature and animals have a chance to heal and recover. It’s extremely pertinent to 2020. Additionally, the closing manic moments of “Arch Enemy”, with it’s chaotic and layered guitars, is pre-empted with the lyrics “I was lonely, lonely/ Now I’m lonely without you”. While evidently not about the loneliness and strain an ongoing lockdown can place on someone, the uncanny commonality between the content of “Arch Enemy” and the state of mind of plenty during 2020 can’t be dismissed.
Another clear winner on Re-animator is the closer “Violent Sun”. A track about trying your best to hold onto the past, the straightforward nature of the track is complemented by the chaos of its accompanying video, featuring the band playing on their damaged instruments following an unfortunate fire whilst they were kept in storage between tours.
Re-animator could well prove to be Everything Everything’s moment in the sun. Lauded for their music plenty of times before, Re-animator is the band’s chance to showcase everything they’ve grown into as a band over the past thirteen years. They’re as sharp and clever here as they’ve always been and yet you feel this could only be the beginning for a band so good they named them twice.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Re-animator is out Friday 11 September.