Tuesday 8 January 2013

Everything Everything - Arc

‘Arc’ is surely one of the most eagerly-awaited albums of 2013.  Everything Everything’s debut ‘Man Alive’ was Mercury nominated back in 2011 and crammed full of notable singles, like MY KZ, UR BF, Qwerty Finger and Final Form.  The tail-end of 2012 saw the release of two tracks from ‘Arc’, Cough Cough and Kemosabe, that sent expectations soaring.

It’s these two tracks that provide the initial double-whammy at the start of ‘Arc’.  Capturing the essence of the band’s sound, these anthems are solid and punchy.  EE are no longer vulnerable newbies but a self-assured art-rock band hitting their stride.  Throughout ‘Arc’, the songs are polished and refined.

Yet perhaps the rough edges of ‘Man Alive’ added to the band’s charm.  Whilst ‘Arc’ does retain some fuzzy synths and spiky rhythms, as a whole it’s a tame affair.  The emphasis is placed more on actual instruments than electronics, leading to a sound more akin to Radiohead or Alt-J.  Duet for example is based predominantly on a string accompaniment, whilst Undrowned is a hypnotic spiral of unending guitar arpeggios and The House is Dust is a plaintive slow-burner complete with a piano fade out.  The result is an album that explores the softer side of the band, but is severely lacking in notable singles.

That’s not to say it’s all dull and boring – far from it.  The more evocative tracks are broken up by the likes of Feet For Hands, whose driving, jagged rhythms and harmonic transitions are typical of the band; or Radiant that begins with a jangling guitar hook leading into verses full of syncopation.  Armourland, meanwhile, clips its beats and samples headlong into a pleasant and calming pop chorus.  It’s fair to say, though, that ‘Arc’ peaks too early with a strong opening that gradually fizzles out.

And whilst the band have developed their sound, the lyrics have been left behind.  ‘Man Alive’ felt youthful and exuberant, whereas here things swing from immature to pretentious.  There’s even a whole song entitled Torso of the Week.

So ‘Arc’ may not be the return we were expecting.  The rough edges have been buffed and smoothed, revealing a softer side that lacks the immediacy of EE’s debut.  The lead singles provide an initial punch that makes way for a slow-burning, quietly confident album.  EE have left behind some of their idiosyncracies, but ‘Arc’ remains a decent sophomore effort that can't quite live up to 'Man Alive'.


Gizzle's Choice:
* Cough Cough
* Kemosabe
* Radiant

Listen: 'Arc' is released on 14th January.

Watch: EE will tour Europe in February and March.