We have reached a terrifying dystopian future fearfully sooner than expected. At least, that’s what Jonathan Higgs and the boys of Everything Everything preach on their third album Get To Heaven. This glitch-fuelled art-pop record collides the political fears and humanitarian horror stories of the last year with droning synths and angelic harmonies to form a maelstrom of sublime tracks. The rise of UKIP, ISIS, terrorist beheadings, and the media’s input all serve as inspiration, cementing Get To Heaven as a thoroughly contemporary work. Their songs are, as ever, saturated with ludicrously imaginative metaphor that becomes even denser through the tight layering of harmony over Higgs’s falsetto vocals. Crackling synths dance amongst heavy guitar chords and frantic snare drums, arousing a sense of panic to escape from the nightmare we’ve stumbled into. Get To Heaven swells to a near incomparable size in an attempt to encompass, as the band’s name suggests, a sense of everything. It pits politics, geography, philosophy, history, and religion violently against each other so that the resulting sonic tsunami forces the listener to submit to the sheer force of the record. For some this may become a bit too overwhelming. Indeed, I was concerned it was a little too epic, and the jewels of the album don’t quite get a chance to shine as they did on Man Alive and Arc. Yet Everything Everything has achieved a perfect balance between the two differing sounds of their previous albums. Get To Heaven’s return to the imaginative pop genius of Man Alive whilst maintaining the Brutalist soundscapes of Arc successfully makes this record their most cohesive to date. It is both irrefutably energetic and apocalyptic.
Gloomy opener To The Blade demonstrates the band’s darker preoccupations as rock charged guitars clash into mournful lyrics. The track’s underlying snare beat introduces a frenzied quality that continues to palpitate throughout the entirety of the album. It’s not quite as welcoming as their past work’s openers, but it certainly grabs your attention and establishes Get To Heaven’s tone. Indeed it is a stark contrast to the following tracks, dizzy singles Distant Past (whose infectious hook penetrates the brain and refuses to let go) and the foot-stomping Regret. Undoubtedly this section of the record is the clearest cut, making it more accessible and more recognisably pop music. This renders it perhaps most similar to the sounds of Man Alive. Title track Get To Heaven is a slick concoction of skipping drums that reverberate amongst modern frustrations as Higgs croons, “Where in the blazes did I park my car?” The sheer absurdity of some of Everything Everything’s lyrics introduces a hint of humour that prevents their songs becoming swamped by doom. Certainly, despite sounding like the story arc for Game of Thrones, Spring/Sun/Winter/Dread’s staccato bounce likewise provides a hint of chirpiness to its apparent lyrical death toll.
The latter half of the album delves into grungier sounds while its images becoming noticeably more violent and bleak. Fortune 500 layers soft vocals over incessant alarms, while Blast Doors rings with a similar urgency, both propagating a sense of unrestrained panic. Meanwhile No Reptiles achieves a similar quality through the rapid execution of its verses. This track stretches the boundaries of our patience with Higgs’s metaphorical meanings, containing perhaps the most comical and ridiculous line “No reptiles, just soft boiled eggs in shits and ties”. I’ll admit that for me these songs took a bit more time to warm to than the first selection of the album, most notably, the Farage-inspired The Wheel (Is Turning Now) with its brooding departure from its hook-laden predecessors. I found it was during the choruses where the tracks really hit their stride. And the inevitable euphoria of Higgs’s crescendoing high notes offset the grittiness of the song’s beginnings so that, with a degree of patience, their moments of beauty really opened up.
The deluxe disk felt more of a continuation of Get To Heaven’s standard release rather than a handful of reject bonuses to plump up sales. Hapsburg Lippp and Yuppie Supper buzz with the same thrill of a videogame boss level, the former sounding like an arcade version of Kanye West’s Black Skinhead. And despite the overall digital sound of the record, President Heartbeat presented a nostalgic nod back towards the 1980’s. However, Everything Everything’s venture into ballad territory in We Sleep In Paris is one they should avoid repeating, as it simply doesn’t suit their musical style. For me it became a bit of a pain to listen through. Yet Only As Good As My God seemed a far more suitable finale to Get To Heaven than the slightly sappy Warm Healer. Overall the deluxe offerings injected a spark of action into the gloopier later half of the record like a much-needed defibrillator to the chest.
With Get To Heaven, the boys have crafted something that rings with their defining sound. The album is unapologetically complex, yet it has enough sparkle to make it appealing. It is a majestic effort that is testimony to their capabilities to not only make great pop music, but to make it clever. Indeed Get To Heaven’s engagement with topics that are quite frankly disturbing whilst still being thoroughly enjoyable, makes it one of the best things I’ve listened to this year.