When the first single for Everything Everything’s new album, “RE-ANIMATOR”, was released back in April this year, I was absolutely floored. ‘In Birdsong’ is still one of my favourite songs of 2020 so far, and is by far one of the best the band has ever released. So to say that my expectations for a new Everything Everything album were pretty high was an understatement, taking into account also how incredibly in love I am with their 2015 album “Get to heaven”. But then after that, a second single; ‘Arch Enemy’, was released. And then a third; ‘planets’. And by the time ‘violent sun’ was released in July, I figured that maybe the new album wasn’t for me. ‘In Birdsong’ might have just struck a chord with me, but I didn’t particularly find much enjoyment in any of the latter songs.
Something I have always loved about Everything Everything is their knack for amazing progressions. Their songs often have incredible structures that feature extremely dynamic and interesting shifts between sections, giving them great replay value due to just how tightly they’re put together. But unfortunately, most of the newer singles seemed to lack this entirely, especially ‘violent sun’, which has one of the most underwhelming developments the band has ever penned. There’s something about the transition into the chorus that feels so disappointing, especially since it has such a promising build-up.
And although ‘Arch-Enemy’ slowly grew on me with its tongue-and-cheek lyrics and fun, bouncy sound, my opinions on ‘planets’ and ‘violent sun’ remained fairly stale. But thankfully, once the album was released, I was able to let a huge sigh of relief as I found this was an issue that started and ended with the teasers. “RE-ANIMATOR” is great album. It’s infectious in how catchy and fun it is, but also has a great variety of tonal shifts that keep it from remaining stagnant. The very first two tracks; ‘Lost Powers’ and ‘Big Climb’, instantly make an incredibly good impression, like much of the material from “Get to Heaven” does on first listen. They’re not only a reassuring start to the album after the underwhelming singles, but they even sit in the ranks as some of the best Everything Everything songs.
"I did what anybody would, that day
No speechless gibbon in the road, not me
I get smaller every day
My god made you all from clay"
‘Lost Powers’ is a colourful intro to the album, and has an amazing chorus that is bound to get instantly stuck in your head even after a single listen. And ‘Big Climb’ has one of the coolest progressions the band has written since “Get to Heaven”, once again being held up by an incredible hook. Other highlights include ‘Lord of the Trapdoor’, which has a false ending that leads into an amazing and explosive payoff, as well as the atmospheric track ‘Black Hyena’, the lyrics of which the album’s title comes from. And, of course, ‘In Birdsong’ is RE-ANIMATOR’s finest moment, despite deviating the furthest from Everything Everything’s core sound. It’s a gorgeous slow-burner that shows the versatility of the band; particularly with the strength of the vocals from frontman Jonathan Higgs, who delivers an absolutely breathtaking performance in the song’s final section. Similarly to ‘At the Door’ off The Strokes’ latest album, ‘In Birdsong’ actually becomes stronger in the context of the album, as it contrasts so well against the more upbeat and pop-oriented sounds of the rest of the record. It’s an absolutely stunning track, and makes me excited to hear what possible directions the band could take their sound in the future.
And although there are hardly any weak spots in “RE-ANIMATOR” apart from its oddly sub-par singles, there is one thing that is fairly distracting about some of its songs that should probably be addressed;
At times this album sounds so similar to Radiohead, even down to Higgs’ own vocal style, that it skates an extremely thin line between inspiration and imitation. The track ‘It was a monstering’ is absolutely gorgeous, but sounds like it could be a B-side off “In Rainbows”. And even more obviously, ‘Moonlight’ sounds so alike to some of “OK Computer” (particularly ‘Subterranean Homesick Alien’), that its hard not to be a little skeptical, despite the fact that on the surface it’s a really solid track. It’s just that Everything Everything have such a unique and exciting sound as it is; for them to drift from that to simply imitate another great band who have their own unique and exciting sound themselves seems slightly pointless. But thankfully these are the only two tracks that have the band exploring this route, as the rest of “RE-ANIMATOR” is absolutely Everything Everything through and through; with them creating some of the best progressive pop music of the decade so far.
And although I’m still not particularly impressed by ‘Violent Sun’ as the concluding moment of the album (which definitely should have been allocated to ‘In Birdsong’), what’s left once RE-ANIMATOR comes to a close is another great record under Everything Everything’s belt. It’s a mostly excellent album, with only a few shortcomings that can still be mostly enjoyed despite them holding it back from reaching the same level of quality or consistency as “Get to Heaven”. And either way, I haven’t been able to stop listening to this thing since it came out. It’s incredibly addictive, and is one of the most fun and vibrant albums of 2020 so far. Everything Everything is an incredibly likeable band, who have released some of the best pop music of the 2010s, and hopefully RE-ANIMATOR is just the start of them continuing that trend into the next decade as well.
"Big climb, big fall
The pink piggies with their hands on their ears
Skeleton boy with the skeleton girl souvenir
Uh, this is the prophecy
Tenth daughter of a beast heart mother, you know that
All our lives in your hands now"
Reviewed by Layton Bryce - 23/09/2020