With 'Get To Heaven', the band's third album, Everything Everything have delivered their most accessible record to date. If 'Arc' was a slow-burner in comparison to their punchy debut 'Man Alive', then 'Get To Heaven' is a return to form that should see the band reaching a new audience.
Pop hooks have always been at the heart of Everything Everything's sound, but they're present now more than ever. Accompanying that is a heavier emphasis on electronics that's far more exciting and thrilling than a typical guitar sound; that's a move closer to their earlier work, but here the overall effect has a lightness of touch in comparison to the darker rhythms of before. The production is polished and detailed, the sort of album where repeated listening continues to reveal small intricacies in the sound.
The result is tracks like lead single Distant Past, that pairs strikingly minimalist verses with a euphoric chorus that borrows heavily from dance music; or the playful whistling melodies of Get To Heaven and its almost tropical sound; or the infectious rhythms of Spring/Summer/Winter/Dread. Even those tracks with a more typical guitar sound, such as opener To The Blade or Regret, consist of catchy riffs and a bright, colourful tone.
That's not to say the band have abandoned their roots. Frontman Jonathan Higgs' vocals remain as idiosyncratic as ever and complex math rock rhythms still infuse their style - they've just been toned down in a move towards a wider audience.
Still, they've fallen for the same pitfalls as before. This is somewhat an album of two halves - all of the aforementioned tracks come early on - a criticism of 'Arc'. Later, the tracks become more electronic, often leaving behind the hooks for a more evocative sound. Fortune 500, for instance, is clearly geared towards Radiohead fans; No Reptiles crescendoes into a pulsing dreamscape; and closer Warm Healer is its opposite as it eventually dissolves into simmering ambience. These offer a welcome change of pace, but don't quite have the immediacy of earlier tracks.
And where the band have progressed their sound, lyrically they still languish a little - "it's alright to feel like a fat child in a pushchair" from No Reptiles is a particularly low point.
Listening to the deluxe version, though, shows the band have plenty more up their sleeve - the stomping Hapsburg Lipp, the 80s psychedelia of President Heartbeat, or the clear nod to their earlier work in Brainchild. This version of the album certainly feels too long, but proves Everything Everything are at their creative zenith. 'Get To Heaven' tones down the math rock in favour of pop melodies for an album that sounds like the most fun the band have had. Nobody likes maths anyway.
* Distant Past
* No Reptiles
Listen: 'Get To Heaven' is available now.