Ever since Everything Everything burst onto the scene in 2008 (they’ve been around a long time now!) with ‘Suffragette Suffragette’, they’ve been going from strength to strength. 2015’s ‘Get to Heaven’ was a hugely successful record and anyone who was lucky enough to see their two Glastonbury performances on that tour cycle – especially the emotional moment in the Williams Green tent during the phenomenal ‘No Reptiles’ – will have been eagerly awaiting ‘A Fever Dream’, their fourth studio album.
Produced by James Ford, who’s previously worked with the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Depeche Mode and Foals, the album opens in typically commanding fashion with ‘Night of the Long Knives’. It has thunderous bass, proggy keyboards and otherworldy synths surrounding Jonathan Higgs distinctive vocals as he sings the title before then delivering the verses with his trademark falsetto. He sings: ‘It was a long time coming. Shame about your neighbourhood’ over and over again and also playfully calls and responds to the orchestral backing vocals. Following this is a couple of recent singles ‘Can’t Do’ and ‘Desire’, which both find EE in very danceable Dutch Uncles-meets-Wild Beasts mood. ‘Big Game’ gives both the band and the listener a little breather as it’s a lot slower but no less compelling. With subtle electronica and odd time signatures, the lyrics are also full of witty asides: ‘Someone’s gonna pull your big trousers up’.
‘Good Shot Good Soldier’ finds Jonathan singing about how ‘You’re a good man, you’re a good leader. Doesn’t everybody know what’s the right thing to do?’ and then referencing being struck down by a bolt to the heavens (is that a sly nod to EE’s previous album?) while swirling synths capture the ‘90s r ‘n’ b/dancey sound the band are so in awe of. In its final moments, this song finds Jonathan’s falsetto at its highest yet as he sings ‘maybe the worst is over’ and after gradually building up, the song falls apart leaving his voice in a part that is going to be absolutely killer live. There appears to be some discontentment in the EE camp about some of the unfathomable decisions the world had made over the past few years; with talk of ‘corridors of power’, multi-millionaires and people having their cake and eating it, ‘Run the Numbers’ appears to be a rally against those who do not care about people less fortunate than them and the appropriately named ‘Ivory Tower’ talks of the ‘machine’ and has the defining line: ‘crush me in the Waitrose aisle’.
‘Put Me Together’ opens with backwards recording and an electronica sound and talks about getting older and taking more responsibility: ‘There’s somebody watching the children but they’re nothing like you and me’. It has a lot in common with Arcade Fire’s ‘The Suburbs’ but it’s all delivered in a Mew-shaped gift box. The title track is another of those wonderfully emotive songs EE do so well. It’s sparse and almost classical to begin with as the piano builds up and Jonathan ponders ‘How do we get here and how do we leave?’ and then demands you ‘be honest, you want it’ towards the end. The penultimate ‘New Deep’ almost acts like a prelude to the closing song but even this fits in a car door being shut, ‘Thriller’-esque sound effects and some post-classical piano. The final ‘White Whale’ is another song that could easily be a single and it is full of love. More direct than the metaphors the band have used in the past, it looks at the difference between two people’s points of view: ‘My mind is on the bad things, your mind is on the good things. These shadows fall on all things. But your love is the lightning’. It then goes on to find Jonathan showing how much he cares: ‘I want you to be OK. I want us to be OK’ before the whole band join in with the emotional and repeated refrain of: ‘never tell me that we can’t go further’.
Four albums in and Everything Everything continue to show why they are one of our finest and most-loved bands. ‘A Fever Dream’ is full of ambition and intelligence and it will surely rank as one of the albums of the year. It’s eminently danceable and has a lot to say about the time we are living in…