Everything Everything, ‘Man Alive’ – First Listen

Manchester chaps Everything Everything’s debut album, ‘Man Alive’, is out on 23rd August on Geffen – here’s a track-by-track guide to whether it matches up to the scrambled brilliance of the singles.

Consider this Everything Everything throwing you a bone, opening with a song that you’ve had a fair few months to get used to, rather than plunging headfirst into abject madness. It seems to be about doing the do with someone who’s not your girlfriend and getting caught in her apartment by her wrathful boyfriend, though it’s extremely hard to tell. If the lyrics themselves are slightly bonkers then the delivery of them is mad as a bag of badgers.

QWERTY finger
The harmonies here make ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ sound about as complicated as ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ – Jonathan thrashes the words out while his compatriots in harmony bastardization climb scales behind. It calms down to a blurry, pulsating synth, but things don’t stay tranquil for long, as Jonathan starts howling what sounds like “HIGGGHHHHER!”

Their current single, of equally brain-frazzling lyrical delivery. Check out the lyrics here.

Leave The Engine Room
Everything points towards this being EE’s dance number – it shifts through warm house-y glows, with a fizzy minimal beat over the top, whist Jonathan’s voice is its highest and purest so far. Despite hints from the bass line to the contrary, it never explodes, showing uncharacteristic restraint.

Final Form
The first real sense of menace. “What is that incessant humming?” Jonathan croons over two taut guitar strings that are more static percussion than melody. It’s another slowish number with less emphasis on vocal harmonies, and probably the closest EE will get to anthemic. A great curtain of synths float into the chorus, before another sea change – momentary peace, before Jonathan yowls his way to the end.

Photoshop Handsome
After a few songs on the slower, darker side of things, the keyboard introduction to this spells pure mischief…

Two For Nero
A strange neo-Gregorian chant – a baroque harpsichord loops over and over, their voices a layered chorus. The lyrics form shards of anxiety about fatherhood, and unlike previous songs, the words keep their meaning. A later verse contains a sombre bass, taking a turn for the even more melancholy amidst Tortoise-like drumming.

Suffragette Suffragette
This is where they show their stripes as the kings of mondegreen. It’s their debut single from way back in 2008 – don’t be surprised if this one sees a re-release.

Come Alive Diana
The harmonies on the chorus sound as though they could fit some surreal gameshow, all technicolour blast and bluster. And yes, it is about that Diana. Brass instruments make their first appearance towards the end – a great dissonant fanfare, undercut by sharp squiggles of guitar – before the chaos that’s been brewing throughout overpowers the end, turning fanfares and yowling into an apocalyptic carnival.

NASA Is On Your Side
The B-side to last year’s release of ‘MY KZ, YR BF’.

Tin (The Manhole)
This seems to be about global warming and the degradation of bodies. With the title of the album being ‘Man Alive’ and all this talk of corporal destruction, there’s maybe a link to be made between the breakdown of bodies and of the meaning of language. The music’s a gentle Postal Service-y bleep, whilst their voices are similarly choric in style to ‘Two For Nero’. The refrain, “A little sea anemone, pool of rocks, why do you see an enemy I do not?” houses the most unaffected, spoken vocals on the record.

It’s undeniable that they sound like Queen here – all four members in sync, chanting, “Tell! Your! Friends! / Not! To! Live! / Like! They are!” in various shades of falsetto. A whopping great ‘80s electronic drum pounds in, making for an ominous sign that this is their cock rock outro. Luckily, the Talking Heads-esque drums and bass rescue ‘Weights’ from the ignominy of ‘80s pastiche. The vocal acrobatics are back in full swing, and the end is pure stadium gusto and riff.