Everything Everything have changed lane again for their new album, 'A Fever Dream'. Can you keep up?
Chameleons of pop. Blenders of genres. Art-pop’s uncompromising leaders. They’re all titles you can attribute to Everything Everything, and it’s in that sheer experimentation that they thrive. It’s been seven years since they first jolted their way onto the collections of thousands with ‘Man Alive’ and that drive is still blossoming in front of our very eyes - a firm fixture in the world of British music, unpredictable detours and all.
“Just the idea of putting out a fourth album feels quite establishment, and that’s quite strange to us,” elaborates bassist Jeremy Pritchard. It’s been just under a year since the band wrapped up proceedings on a mammoth run of shows in support of third album ‘Get To Heaven’, and already they’re back with a new era of material and a new buffet of forward-thinking art-pop to tuck into. “It’s something we say all the time,” he continues. “We’re a pop band, and we want people to really get into what we’re doing, and yet we never make any concessions to being that musically ever!”
‘A Fever Dream’ is a glorious continuation of Everything Everything’s mantra. The idea of boundaries and constraints are something that seem ridiculous to a band always looking to incorporate new sounds and directions into what they do. On ‘A Fever Dream’, they allow those visions to run free again, with a collection of tracks full of unabashed freedom and dark parallels to the world around them. Never compromising and committed to making the truest record they can possibly make in that very instance, ‘A Fever Dream’ is born out of a period where the band had to face challenges head on and came out on a creative and personal high.
“For us, it’s a relatively quick turnaround,” points out Jeremy. “We didn’t really break stride from finishing the touring and then starting the writing. We didn’t really have any time off, partly because we learnt our lesson when writing ‘Get To Heaven’…”
For all bands, there’s a defining record and time - and with Everything Everything, it’s fair to say that the whole process around ‘Get To Heaven’ was a journey of seismic importance. Fighting through creative droughts, finding it difficult to get a hold of a record that twists and fizzes with a violent energy and then coming out of the other side with some of their biggest live shows and packed diaries - it was an album that taught Everything Everything the importance placed on being a band in the modern age. For Jeremy, it was a time that rose out of the darkness and led to the band sitting in the best place they’ve ever been not just musically, but personally too.
As Jeremy recollects the time, it’s clear just how different making ‘A Fever Dream’ was compared to its predecessor. “We had this massive crisis of confidence making that album, and we didn’t really know how it was going to go down. We kinda lost touch with certain things, mostly ourselves really and that sense of identity - that was the lowest ebb for us as a band, that end of 2014 time. We learnt a lot about ourselves and each others behaviour at that time, and I remember at the end of making ‘Get To Heaven’ thinking that we might need to take a break.”
From that turmoil though, came unbridled success. An album that garnered dazzling critical acclaim and captured the minds of fans not only across the country but through Europe and the world - it singled a new era for the band, one with their position as true purveyors of new and exciting alternative pop firmly secured under their name. If ever there was a reward for the hardships and doubt that floated around the making of it, their time on the road with ‘Get To Heaven’ was nothing short of rejuvenating.
“It was nice to be reminded in a very direct way that people love the songs, and there are people who love the band. Because touring the album was such a reassurance we didn’t feel we needed that break anymore,” notes Jeremy, recalling memorable gigs and a summer full of festival fields. “We really needed that shot in the arm. It was very quick and forthcoming when we first started playing those songs out on the road, that emotion came out, and people really loved them. We were very buoyed up by it, and we’re still sort-of riding that energy now.”
“We really learnt our lesson and didn’t want to spend so much time making an album again. We thought it was good for us just to keep rolling, so we’ll end up playing festivals for three years in a row, but in terms of the music we’re making it definitely feels like a fresh start.”
Developing and morphing between styles and snapshots in time are a key to the doors Everything Everything continue to open. Putting your finger on them is a fruitless task, pouring with emotion and conviction no matter what avenue they find themselves. Over the course of seven years, they’ve become a band who carve out their own platforms to play from, the searing vocals that come out of frontman Jonathan Higgs a call to arms that has people flocking to their every whim. There's a careful intricacy to everything they do, and a journey between each album that finds them reacting not just against those looking in, but against themselves.
“I think every album that we’ve made, has been a reaction to the one before,” points out Jeremy. “‘Man Alive’ is a young, youthful exotic pop record. Then we wanted to make something more mature, more stately, more considered in terms of songwriting and that became ‘Arc’. From that we found ‘Arc’ to be quite insular, so we wanted ‘Get To Heaven’ to be quite aggressive, quite hard, direct and fast. And so when it came to this album, we just let it come and did exactly what we wanted.
“We didn’t say we’re not going to have any tender moments or we’re not going to have any harder moments. We just let it all mix in a way we haven’t done really since maybe ‘Arc’ or ‘Man Alive’, and that was quite freeing, knowing that we didn’t have to work to any particular agenda. Yet it’s still extremely cohesive.”
What makes Everything Everything such a vital band, is the feeling you get when you click play on a record. This is a band who manage to capture the grit between your fingers, the chilling drips in the late-night alley and build a world around each and every track. ‘A Fever Dream’ is their most engrossing yet, jumping between whirlwind unravelling (‘Night Of The Long Knives’), Hacienda button-pushing (‘Can’t Do’), swagger-filled strutting (‘Run The Numbers’), a Hope Of The States-esque penchant for swelling instrumentation (‘White Whale’) and tight blossoming (‘A Fever Dream’) with ease. Always connected, it’s a dense record that has you under its spell in moments - effortlessly demanding to be played over and over. For the sheer breadth of flourishes and abilities, it’s a culmination of everything they’ve become as a band, holding tight that core essence of making you feel every single part of the story they’re detailing. There’s a reason why when Jonathan sings, “Is there something wrong with all of this, or is there something wrong with me?” on ‘New Deep’, that you feel both devastated but enraptured in equal measure.
“You know, we always want to convey a particular atmosphere,” continues Jeremy. “There has to be a consistency of feel and feeling throughout, and I think there is on this album. ‘Get To Heaven’ was quite anguished and this is a reaction to the same sort of stuff going on in the world. Whereas ‘Get To Heaven’ was just before it all, this is more of a dizzying and dazed reaction to it. It’s more obscured, hence the title, and we were conscious of wanting to make it sound and feel as if we’re almost unconscious with the dizzying absurdity and level of information people are labelling under now.”
As touring finished up in September last year, Everything Everything had the vision for ‘A Fever Dream’ laid out, building on demos and ideas pulled together by Jonathan and guitarist Alex Robertshaw and splitting their time between Manchester and Alex’s flat in London. From the odd rehearsal time spent unpacking those ideas, by February they were ready to pull it all together with the help of co-producer James Ford (y’know the guy behind Arctic Monkeys' and Foals' latest calls to the world). Immediate and natural, it’s the sound of a band who instinctively know the direction they’re heading in.
“Alex has got such a, and I mean this in a really good way, such a short attention span that as soon as we finish a record, he’s already thinking ahead to the next,” points out Jeremy. “Before the first gig has even been played. I mean, he’s already thinking about the next album now, but it was great to be so focused, and this time, we were so well prepared.”
Everything Everything in 2017 are a realisation of all they promised to be and more. A band operating completely in their own orbit, free of any shackles of restraint and out the other side of a creative period that pushed them to levels they never thought possible, the result is a band thriving and bristling with ideas and pictures of their years to come. ‘A Fever Dream’ isn’t just another album; it’s the sound of a band locking in and flexing their muscles for every other band to see. There's no band shaping and forming the type of music Everything Everything are, fearlessly leading the way and no longer looking behind them. Refreshing and undeniably glorious, it only feels like the beginning.
“We want to keep moving forward,” Jeremy states, offering an insight into the ideas already flowing ahead of getting back onto the road that so inspired them over the past two years. “Musically we’ve already started talking about how we might want to change our approach on the next record but I know as soon we have those conversations that in a year’s time we’ll be in a completely different place.
“I mean, fuck knows what we’ll do next, we just wouldn’t want to become dry - it has to be completely open with us. Who knows, in a month's time we’ll probably be talking about a techno record or something like that.”
The sound of a band surging with confidence, Everything Everything are only just clicking play - no matter how you want to describe them. In fact, it says it all that nobody really can.
Taken from the September issue of Dork. Order a copy below. Everything Everything's album 'A Fever Dream' is out 18th August.