In 2015 Everything Everything released a superbly inventive pop album entitled “Get to Heaven”, which received infuriatingly little attention and soon sunk back into the mire of quiet, docile reputability that seems so oddly unbecoming of the band. This was obstinate, often luridly colourful and wryly brazen music that didn’t belong in the back lanes of British “indie”, even though the lumping of the band into this category at all strains credulity. After the opulent blowout of “Get to Heaven”, “A Fever Dream” feels strangely like an incidental epilogue, irrespective of its contents. If their last album didn’t have the requisite boldness to break them, what will?
The band don’t seem to have an answer either, merely dimming the technicolour glare of “Get to Heaven” into muted blacks and oranges, Dante’s inferno via grainy polaroid. “A Fever Dream” is aptly named, a murkier and subtler work that eschews the punchy bombast of their previous albums in favour of more uncertain, introspective tones. “Good Shot, Good Soldier” emerges from beige aimlessness into a weary, rotating grandeur, while “Run the Numbers” buries a superb vocal melody beneath a down-tuned riff and Tom Morello-aping solo. As always, the unusual intonation and dynamism of Jonathan Higgs’ vocals dominate, as he gently wrings sympathy from the likes of the tender “Put Me Together”.
Despite the floaty moodiness of many of the tracks, much of the songwriting here is noticeably more conventional. “Desire” bludgeons its listener into submission with dreadnought synths and the belted brashness of its chorus, although it redeems itself with a superb bridge. Some sort of newfound fuzzy rockism tramples the intricacy of “Big Game”, with a dash of Rush or even Dream Theatre slashed into the proggy riffing of “Ivory Tower”. Although perhaps momentarily diverting, the allure of Everything Everything is their genre-bending and oddball vim, and they are far more unremarkable as a conventional rock band.
Unsurprisingly, there are scattered moments of transcendent beauty here, such as the swell of brass midway through “Good Shot, Good Soldier”, the complex arpeggios “Big Game” breaks into around the 2-minute mark or the entirety of the enveloping stateliness of “New Deep”. However, a faint air of anti-climax pervades the album, which was perhaps inevitable when it was tailing the cocksure cohesion of “Get to Heaven”. For the first time in their career the band feel suspended in aural stasis, treading water, with little here that they haven’t already attempted elsewhere. Unsure of how to progress, they have concaved slightly into the (by their standards) conventionalism of their second record, “Arc”. It’s a real pity they took the rather self-consciously “credible” path on “A Fever Dream”, because there’s a phenomenally strange pop band in there somewhere, nibbling at the walls. CO
Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LR3nXuBwGcI