For those of you who aren’t familiar, Everything Everything are an eclectic indie band hailing from Manchester and they produce the kind of music that I can best describe as a maelstrom of noise.
I was on the heaving bus home today and The Wheel (Is Turning Now) by Everything Everything came on, out of nowhere. Everything Everything’s third album Get To Heaven, came out four years ago and this was one of the tracks I neglected initially. Yet today, the song caught me off-guard. I found that my head nodding along in almost no time at all and I was mouthing the words under my breath (I didn’t want to freak out the lady next to me). This song is about the Nigel Farages of our world, herding the sheep with allure and veiled prejudice. It’s hard not to have a physiological response to the lyricism: there I was on the bus, with my limbs a-tingling like someone had just run an electrical current through my skeleton. I was pumped because I realised how crucial music really is, in a world of fake news and untrustworthy politicians. When we write songs to make sense of our own lives and our own feelings and then put them out there, for others to interpret, we can really change things. On the 620 bus home, I didn’t feel alone in my anger. Jonathan Higgs gave me solace.
Get To Heaven is easily one of my favourite albums, like, ever. It transcended any expectations I had for the band’s musical progression and gave me a newfound respect for their capability as versatile artists. The whole album was an ‘overwhelming’ commentary on the happenings of 2014-2015 yet, as I listened on the bus, I realised that as much as it was applicable then, it’s even more applicable now.
When Get To Heaven was released, basically all of the worst possible political changes had happened or were in the process of happening. I was at Huddersfield Uni (despite a somewhat turbulent diversion involving Man Met…) and I consider myself lucky, in retrospect, because I managed to find a pretty secure group of friends with which I shared similar beliefs. We held onto each other through the mania of reality because if we had let go, we’d have been spun out. We were laughing and crying a lot, glued to the TV with all the ruckus of political parties on the verge of implosion and tango-ed tycoons pursuing presidential elections. There were bombings galore and Black Mirror plots, involving swine-on-swine action, somehow leaking from Dystopian Channel 4 programmes onto the BBC news broadcasts. Life imitates art and our old prime minister, the founding father of national division and the absolute shit-show of a corrupt Brexshit campaign, slotted into a pig like a jigsaw piece. We were hysterical with disbelief because hysteria seems to bubble up when people are witnessing the absolute dissolution of all stability.
Get to Heaven was a saviour in these times. I cried as I listened for the first time, in the bedroom of my second-year accommodation, because I was totally stunned. I admire Jonathan Higgs as a musician but, above all, I think the guy is vastly underrated as a powerful lyricist. With Get To Heaven, Higgs translates to audio the anxiety and anger of the disenfranchised everyman. I read in an interview somewhere that he suffered badly with depression at the time of writing this album and became fixated on watching the news constantly. This drone of negativity only worsened his mental state but the product of that horrible time is all the more effective because of the pain which inspired it. I was struck by Higgs’ honest narration of the world falling apart, the headlines progressively darkening over the span of 2014-2015 and the general feeling of disarray. It was like listening to a mouthpiece for the people, my type of people, and it truly felt cathartic. Somebody had managed to articulate the dread and the depletion me and my friends were feeling yet they’d also managed to make music we could simultaneously move to. There’s no gratuitous ballads and depressing crooning about the state of affairs- in true Everything Everything fashion, you’re thrown into layers of intricate instrumentation and gorgeous vocals that take you from dreamy falsettos to forceful belting.
A little precursor- it’s not all doom and gloom. I think Higgs captures the bad stuff well but also manages to bury a little positivity in there. A hope nestles among the tracks of the album. It’s almost like someone’s reached out to give you a hug, to remind you that there is solidarity with many more people feeling as angry out there as you do. But anger is useless if it’s not channelled into the correct outlets so, if you can see the problem, don’t look the other way (Warm Healer deserves a listen, for sure).
It was clearly destiny which brought Everything Everything back to me, today. We are on the verge of yet another momentous general election. I know there are many of us trying to urge on the revolution whilst simultaneously resisting the temptation to really get our hopes up (the comedown hurts so much more that way). I just wanted to recommend this album to anybody who hasn’t had a chance to listen through- please try it. Please listen to the things that Higgs has to say, as indecipherable as they may seem sometimes (he sure is good at squeezing syllables in places that they ordinarily wouldn’t fit). The album may induce reams of spontaneous writing, a cathartic outburst or a good motivational push that could get you out there canvassing for the votes that could turn this whole tragedy of a reality around.
Some songs from the deluxe version I especially recommend:
No Reptiles, Warm Healer, The Wheel (Is Turning Now), Spring / Sun / Winter / Dread, Blast Doors, Zero Pharaoh
Everything Everything have a place in my heart because they are married to that memory of that morning after a dope house-party… I remember sitting in the passenger’s side of dad’s old Zafira, on-route to an open day for Huddersfield university. The sun was glaring through the windscreen and I was sleep-deprived as well as partially drunk from the night before, smiling with my eyes half-shut. Man Alive, Everything Everything’s debut album, was receiving heavy airplay on Radio 1 and there was talk of prestigious accolade with Mercury Prize nominations. It was Photoshop Handsome that got me hook, line and sinker. Even in my drunken stupor, I knew I was onto something special.