Everything Everything: Get To Heaven
Weird rhythms, polished production, interesting textures, hooky choruses, morbid lyrics - this is extremely my shit. I haven’t heard anything by Everything Everything up to this point, but now I’m wondering how I managed to miss the memo. I’ll have to go back and investigate their first two albums; apparently Get To Heaven is more of the same but poppier. In general, I tend to prefer breakout albums, the places where eccentric underground talents are pulled into line by populist ambition (Merriweather Post Pavillion, The Soft Bulletin), so I may not enjoy them as much, but I’ll reserve my judgment. I honestly hope that Get To Heaven ends up getting some decent exposure, because the idea of people on the way to work singing along to any of the frankly horrifying songs on this album on their way to work makes me giggle.
Musically, Get To Heaven is surprisingly disciplined. There’s a lot of weirdness in the margins, but you could easily tune it out if you so desired. It’s good that the obvious technical and compositional ability of the band (see: the glitchy, mathy beats in Warm Healer) hasn’t gotten in the way of their ability to construct a coherent pop song. The vocal melodies are generally strong, but they’re more interesting when the rhythms stray away from the usual alt-rock fare towards a weird pseudo-rap vibe, such as in the verses of ‘Distant Past’ and ‘Blast Doors’. If I had to sum up the sound of the album, I’d say it’s like a mutant mashup of Phoenix, Incubus, post-OK Computer Radiohead, Liars, and even a bit of later Pink Floyd - some sections of ‘Fortune 500’ are strongly reminiscent of the more menacing parts of The Wall. These are all sounds that I love, so a band that brings them all together in one place is pretty much always going to grab my attention. Just one minor gripe: I’d prefer some more aggression in the guitar playing, and more ‘noise’ overall, but I think that would undermine the juxtaposition of shiny music and brutal lyrics that makes the whole package that much more acerbic. I’ll get to that later.
I’m getting a real Animals-era Roger Waters vibe from the lyrics. One reason that I dislike a lot of modern prog bands is because of their lyrics, which tend to be vague and wishy-washy or clumsily pretentious. It’s hard to take melodrama seriously when you get the impression the singer doesn’t have anything interesting to say. In contrast, the lyrics on Get To Heaven are nothing if not eye-catching and direct:
‘Saw off all my stinking limbs, blood dripping down my sunken money chin’
‘I'm going to kill a stranger… so don't you be a stranger’'
'You can fire a rocket at a rocket, it’s the future!’
Eek. It’s very nihilistic, but I feel like it’s less of a hopeless nihilism and more of a call for humanity to collectively get off our tumblr feeds and start actually caring about important things again. Maybe. In a way I’d almost prefer if their lyrical appropriation of violence was totally hopeless and exploitative, but I think that’s exactly the kind of urge Everything Everything are raging against. From the title track:
‘I’m thinking: "What was my password?” As the vultures land’
‘As the tanks roll by, under a blood black sky, I’m thinking: "Where in the blazes did I park my car?"
Jesus Christ. Sorry guys, I want to congratulate you on the zingers, but I’m too busy reevaluating my entire existence. Bringing up the Animals comparison again, this deeply black humour reminds me of lines like:
‘With bright knives he releaseth my soul
He maketh me to hang on hooks in high places
He converteth me to lamb cutlets
For lo, he hath great power and great hunger’
If it sounds like I’m getting down on Get To Heaven for being so dark, I’m not. It’s genuinely refreshing to hear alternative rock that has some kind of deeper meaning, particularly one that I find personally interesting. The general pop sheen of the arrangements and production actually makes the point that songs like the title track are trying to make, that human beings are capable of prodigious mental gymnastics when they want to get out of cognitive dissonance, hit home even harder. By making these horrifying realities so catchy and accessible, Everything Everything are throwing down the gauntlet: either pay attention to what you’ve become, or turn away for good.