Everything Everything broaden their appeal with new album Arc
Arc is the eagerly awaited follow up album to Everything Everything’s debut, Man Alive, released in 2010. The first studio album was placed on so many “one to watch” lists, you would be forgiven for thinking you had missed something. In truth, the uniqueness of their sound was perhaps too niche and disjointed for the masses to absorb easily, despite lead singer Jonathan Higgs being compared to Chris Martin (due to his baritone warbling).
This sophomore record seems to have attempted to quell a little of the eccentricity that may have previously alienated the general public. Man Alive felt like too many great ideas stitched together in a way that was critically impressive but not instantly endearing. Arc refines that approach by containing fewer elements within the songs, and simplifying their style. The House is Dust, The Peaks, and the exceptionally lucid track Choice Mountain are moments where the band’s new laid back approach has resulted in a more expressive subtlety that must be admired.
The band retains its personality of old, with early singles Cough Cough and Kemosabe both exuding vibrant energy. However, running through this album is a feeling of angst, and a certain discomfort with the idea of the future. In Torso of the Week, Higgs looks at our obsession with the unobtainable and questions, “What you wrestling with?” Similarly, Duet, Undrowned and Radiant seem to focus on escapism, disconnection and disenchantment with the modern world. Feet for Hands is perhaps the most entertaining song in this respect, full of discontentment with lines such as, “Slipping in and out of what you call life”, and, “I think I’m done with answering the phone.” This track is musically interesting as it sounds heavily influenced by Muse, Coldplay, Radiohead and The Strokes – harking back to Everything Everything’s Frankenstein-like experimental side.
The album ends well with the synth-induced Don’t Try, which works well as a send-off, and could easily be a single, encompassing everything this LP is about. The album, produced by David Kosten, is a triumph in the exercise of balance: ambitious but knowing when to play it down. The band have simply embraced their pop side and reined in their pretentious nature, which they still unveil from time to time, to good effect. Though Arc doesn’t have the immediacy of its predecessor, it may bring them the commercial success they deserve, without cutting off their already loyal fan base.
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Watch the video of track Cough Cough here: