Alex Lebl, Contributing Writer
Everything Everything – Arc
Genre: Future Pop
Release Date: 1/14/13
Goes well with: Yeasayers, Battles
Everything Everything’s follow-up to its 2010 debut, Man Alive, sees the band scale back its intricate and sometimes wild sound to create a solid sophomore album, which thankfully avoids the classic “sophomore slump” that many bands encounter.
The band received criticism for the sometimes “over the top” and “crazy” arrangements on its debut (although overall, reviews were positive), and it seems to have taken this to heart when writing the songs for Arc. The album follows the same general arc (no pun intended) as that of Man Alive, opening with the three catchiest tracks, slowing it down in the middle portion and picking the listener right back up again in the closing tracks.
The first single, “Cough Cough,” is horribly catchy and opens with a strangely delightful interplay between a spoken vocal sample and singer Jonathan Higgs’s rising and falling voice. “Cough Cough” shows that the band can scale back its unique, futuristic style, and still make catchy songs – great news for everybody. Higgs’s uncanny ability to switch between falsetto and chest voice is a major strong point throughout the entire record. It provides a range of vocal melodies that many bands with lesser singers simply cannot fathom.
“Kemosabe,” the second single off Arc, has a more electronic sound, yet still hooks into the listener’s mind and stays there for hours. After the two strong singles comes another favorite, “Torso of the Week,” a song highlighting another massive improvement for Everything Everything – better lyric writing. Many of the songs, including this one, are very funny and keep the listener intrigued throughout the album.
The middle portion of the album slows down and even goes acoustic, which is unthinkable if you have heard Man Alive, but the band pulls it off quite nicely, carried by Higgs’s voice. Better tracks from this portion of Arc include the title track, “Undrowned,” and “Radiant.” This slower section could be viewed as going on a little too long, which is the only real complaint I have with this album. The better songs have a real energy to them, and by slowing down for so long, the band takes away somewhat from what makes it so unique and enjoyable.
The album picks up speed again with “Armourland,” probably the best song in the second half of the album, and finally slows down and finishes with “Don’t Try.”
Arc demonstrates the effort that Everything Everything has put into refining its unique sound into something that appeals to more listeners, a goal it seems to have accomplished. It has scaled its arrangements back while managing not to sound like everyone else, although sometimes it has scaled back a little too much. 7.3/10.