You have to feel for Everything Everything; their fourth album comes out at the same time as a crap rom-com of the same name, and the same day Taylor Swift announced her abortive comeback. Still, they aren’t a band who struggle to stand out.
On 2015’s Get To Heaven the Manchester four-piece Everything Everything walked the tightrope between divine and ridiculous. They’re still up there on A Fever Dream, and though they wobble a few times, it’s still a spectacle.
The febrile panic that infused Get To Heaven remains here, only with greater context. On that album, frontman Jonathan Higgs wondered aloud: it feels like the end of the world doesn’t it? On his latest album, he seems fairly assured of this.
However this time there’s anger, indignation, beyond just pity and fear. ‘Ivory Tower’ is an indictment of echo-chamber politics. An indictment of the scramble for the moral high ground, the desire to take away one’s right to even have an opinion, that has infested both the Social Justice movement and the “Lock her up” Trumpettes.
If that sounds like hard work, it isn’t. As before, EE are able to pack even their most prosaic material with energy; shuffling beats, thundering electronic bass and nasally, pinched guitars. ‘Can’t Do’ may be a simplification of EE’s often more elaborate arrangements, but it makes for an infectious and buoyant pop track, one that nevertheless is wound tight as a lug nut.
There are moments of calm on A Fever Dream; although the album is as consistently mental as the title would suggest. ‘Put Me Together’ is a moment of sweetness, a quirky song of clicking staccato percussion that recalls the comforting sound of Alt-J’s An Awesome Wave. The title track is a piano song, with a simplistic refrain, that begins at ease and is slowly wound and wound to the point of breaking, which it does with a burst of passion.
‘Desire’ is the album at it’s best, taking the lackadaisical swing of ‘Regret’ and charging it with the stomp of Metric’s ‘Youth Without Youth’. The concept of A Fever Dream – for there surely is one, is of the unforeseeable and unthinkable impinging on the here and now. Timely…
Everything Everything may have rounded off some of the edges from their confounding early material, but they retain their unique, devise identity. A Fever Dream is more of what we got on Get To Heaven – but when you’re onto something good, nothing wrong with digging a little deeper. Neurotic, brazen and brilliant as ever.