Everything Everything frontman Jonathan Higgs’ lyrics have always had a touch of the dystopian to them, as he sang of terror in the age of Trump and Brexit, the absurdity of modern life and the invasive role technology plays in our lives. It almost makes sense, then, for the Manchester band to have the machines carry some of the weight on their sixth album, ‘Raw Data Feel’.
To come up with the lyrics for the new record, Hogg created an A.I. bot and fed it with random information – the terms and conditions of LinkedIn, posts on 4Chan, Chinese philosophy and more – and worked with what it spat out. In a statement accompanying the release, he loftily claims that this way of working will “revolutionise modern pop music”. Perhaps one day it will, but not with this album.
Few will look to the band for the biting social commentary or absurdist poetry of their lyrics (the hook of one of their most successful songs, ‘Cough Cough’, is literally just, erm, someone coughing), so for the casual listener not much has changed on ‘Raw Data Feel’. The creation of the bot is a nice interview angle, but rarely has an overt impact on the record. A few good lyrics (“You’re in love with the future / I don’t know why”) and some bad (“Why don’t you listen to your momma? / She’s old”) stick out, but the narrative hook is stronger in theory than in practice.
Higgs created the “fifth member of the band”, as he has called it, to help him switch off his pandemic-addled thoughts during his work on the album, and it turns out the singer put those extra few hours to good use – the music on ‘Raw Data Feel’ is the band’s best, catchiest and most focused to date.
Single ‘I Want A Love Like This’ is a euphoric house tune, while the fantastic ‘Bad Friday’ feels like the end product of a slow-and-steady refining of the their sound; it’s a fidgety track that also happens to be an ecstatic earworm. When things slow down, as on the driving indie-rock of ‘Jennifer’ and glacial ‘Leviathan’, the group still prioritise melody, with ‘Kevin’s Car’ another glistening highlight as they turn to shimmering indie-pop.
Everything Everything’s little electronic friend may have been revolutionary for them after all – just not in the way they imagined.
Release date: May 20
Record label: Infinite Industries/AWAL