With its third album Get to Heaven in 2015, UK indie pop/alternative rock group Everything Everything finally delivered on hype that had been building since its 2010 debut. The album’s unique blend of radio-friendly pop and boundary-pushing vocal and instrumental work combined to land it solid reviews and a newfound following outside of their native country. New follow-up A Fever Dream continues the bold (sometimes indistinguishable) mix of synths and guitars while taking things in a slightly darker, moodier direction both musically and lyrically.
Everything Everything has never been afraid to tackle complex issues, having written songs on their last album from the perspective of a suicide bomber (“Fortune 500”) and about the desensitization of modern culture (“Get to Heaven”). Their lyrics take an even more specific turn on this album, with the driving opener “Night of the Long Knives” taking the listener on a journey through 1934 Nazi Germany and the murders of the Hitler regime. It’s a disconcerting, panicky track, which is a tone-setter for the rest of the album. “Ivory Tower” in the back half of the tracklist is in a similar vein, with its fast-paced, uneven drums and yelp-sung vocals contributing to a sense of mass alarm and confusion.
The poppier cuts here are no less captivating, however. Lead single “Can’t Do” and its pounding synth line which eventually gives way to a chorus made for stadium sing-alongs is one of the most memorable songs in the tracklist, and its in-your-face follow-up “Desire” grabs you with a monstrous bassline and doesn’t let go. One of the main selling points of Everything Everything has always been frontman Jonathan Higgs’ unique, high-register singing voice, and it’s out in full force on these two tracks and the entirety of A Fever Dream. The chorus of “Good Shot, Good Soldier” in particular finds him pushing the upper limits of his range to great effect. One of the more spacey and slow-paced tracks here, it finds Higgs in a position of power but with no idea what to do with it as he pleads with his people and with God to show him the way.
The record isn’t without its misses; tracks like “Run the Numbers” feel like half-finished ideas, and the middle pair of tracks don’t do much to justify their 5+ minute lengths. Still, the best songs here can go toe to toe with the band’s previous highlights, and they mix it up just enough to not feel like a total repeat of Get to Heaven. Everything Everything still has a captivating lead singer, a penchant for descriptive, thoughtful lyrics, and colorful guitars and production which combine to make a listen more than worthwhile.
Favorite Tracks: “Night of the Long Knives,” “Can’t Do”
Others: Dutch Uncles, The Maccabees, Wild Beasts