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Everything Everything - Raw Data Feel (Album Review)

Friday, 27 May 2022 Written by Jacob Brookman

Everything Everything’s sixth studio album is terrific—a joyous sashay around a disco art gallery; all neon imagery, day-glo cocktails and sexy synths. Over 14 tracks and 54 minutes, we find the Mancunian quartet kicking at the outer edges of their distinctive dance-art-rock, offering up hugely diverse sounds and influences.

The lyrics are also pretty out there. Singer Jonathan Higgs teamed up with an academic at the University of York to create them using Artificial Intelligence software. Text from Beowolf, Confucius, 4Chan and LinkedIn’s terms and conditions were fed in, and the algorithms did the rest. The result is frequently beguiling yet disjointed fare. “Metroland is burning / No God is here / You must start mutating,” he sings on Metroland.

It does not always add up to the most cogent storytelling, but its otherness does take you somewhere. It requires guts and integrity for an artist to defer their essential voice elsewhere. David Bowie did similar things by putting words and phrases into a hat and then picking them out to form verses.

Standout moments include Bad Friday, which uses a thrilling blend of digital afropop rhythms, falsetto harmonies, and call and response. Once again, Higgs is playful. The central hook “It was a Friday night” is immediately undermined by “It was a Saturday night”. Well, which one is it?

He appears to be toying with a distinctive trope of pop songs: identifying familiar but highly particular sensations and then presenting as the essential ur manifestation of it. By subverting this, the song feels cerebral, groundbreaking even. Then again, both nights are party nights, aren't they? 

Elsewhere Cut Up! is excellent work with chunky disco beats, nimble singing and snaking synth rhythms. Thrillingly, here the lyrics reference other songs on the album: “The Pizza Boy told me [...] Kevin told me.” Pizza Boy and Kevin's Car are both excellent tracks, too.

It gives the 'Raw Data Feel' this magical computer game quality, while avoiding name-dropping things like the metaverse and NFTs, which somehow feel like low-hanging fruit. This album will age well.


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