Everything Everything have always been on the fringes of pop, hinting at chart-mingling with their oddball melodies and lightning fast vocal delivery, but it was on third album ‘Get To Heaven’ that they really stepped forward as festival-ready hit-makers. Returning with fourth effort ‘A Fever Dream’, the band aren’t changing their tune for anyone, but slowly and surely tinkering with their already-signature sound and continuing their trajectory towards being one of British alt-pop’s big-hitters.
“Our career trajectory has been really satisfying so far,” guitarist Alex Robertshaw begins, sat in the London offices of label RCA, and with a steady progression ever since debut album ‘Man Alive’, the band have been far from a flash in the pan. “We realised recently,” vocalist Jonathan Higgs takes over, “that we don’t need to play certain songs [from ‘Man Alive’] live any more, and it’s nice for people not to be constantly waiting for your old songs all the time - it’s nice not to be constantly referred back to your first material, as so many bands often are.”
The album’s first single, ‘Can’t Do’, feels like a natural progression from ‘Get To Heaven’ smash ‘Distant Past’, the band’s first true hit and Radio 1 mingler, while its title track takes things to weirder places, a swirling cocktail that repeats its title over and over, inducing a dream-like state.
Though Higgs has rarely suffered from fever dreams himself, the idea permeates all parts of the album, reacting to the increasingly unstable state of the world, and having former constants stripped away. “There’s lots of uncertainty around,” Higgs begins. “There’s lots of things that we thought we’d never see, and things we thought we could rely on have gone in an instant. It’s very strange, and very feverish.” From the aforementioned title track to the hyperactive ‘Ivory Tower’, which talks, hilariously, of people looking down from their ivory towers in “the Waitrose aisle”. ‘A Fever Dream’ is an incredibly conscious album, with its nervousness brilliantly translated by Higgs’ vocals, more high-pitched and excitable than ever.
“There’s lots of things that we thought we’d never see, and things we thought we could rely on have gone in an instant.”
Large amounts of this deep-rooted anxiety comes from ‘A Fever Dream’ being written across world tours, travelling to fast-changing places that were undergoing huge changes at the times the band were travelling through them on a tourbus. “We couldn’t have been heading across America or through Europe at the times of Trump’s election and Brexit respectively, and not be affected by what we saw happening,” Higgs says. “We were wondering if we were still allowed to be there, and if we’d ever be able to come back.”
For all the lack of stability the album depicts, though, it’s written by a band who have never been more comfortable in themselves. ‘A Fever Dream’ is the first album in which Robertshaw and Higgs have written together, rather than piecing together the former’s music with the latter’s words, after simply “writing with only ourselves” for the last 20 years. “No matter how much more you write on your own after however many years,” Higgs says, “there’s no new ground to tread. With this situation, there was immediately something new and fresh in front of us.”
“It’s not like Lennon and McCartney,” he continues. “I won’t put on a song I’ve written and say ‘this’ll make you cry’, for Alex to come back and say ‘well, this one will make YOU cry!’,” it’s more that I couldn’t write any of the things that [Alex] writes, and vice versa, so when those two opposites come together, that’s where the really amazing stuff happens. Indeed, when listening to ‘A Fever Dream’, the juxtaposition of warm, chart-leaning instrumentation meets an unstoppable barrage of syllables to create something unparalleled in its uniqueness. “I’m also finding myself more easily talking positively about our music because I wrote it with Alex,” he concludes, “because I wouldn’t sit around telling people how great a song I wrote on my own is all day long.”
There’s a modesty to Everything Everything, but it’s all underset with a quiet confidence in their music, and a genuine belief that every next album they’ve written has been better than their last. They very well might be right. Their ambitions haven’t grown out of control with ‘A Fever Dream’ - “as long as we’re creating something new and not trying to replicate a sound or song that’s clicked with people before, that’s all we want,” Alex says - but their continued progression into the upper echelons of British indie doesn’t look like it’s stopping any time soon. It’s just as well, too, as we could do with more bands as unique and striking as Everything Everything.
Everything Everything’s new album ‘A Fever Dream’ is out now via RCA.