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Everything Everything - Mountainhead (Album Review)

Tuesday, 05 March 2024 Written by Adam England

Photo: Steve Gullick

Following the release of ‘Get to Heaven’ in 2015 there was a hell of a lot for Everything Everything to live up to. The album was a maximalist reset for their sound, setting a benchmark that their ensuing work, while nothing to sniff at, couldn’t quite reach. But they’ve gone up a gear with ‘Mountainhead’, a record that finally stands as a worthy successor.

The album is set in a world where humanity has dug a deep hole to live in as they build an enormous mountain — a metaphor for late-stage capitalism, naturally — all while trying to escape a golden snake who lives in said pit. Some lovely, relaxing Sunday morning listening, then.

While there are recurring characters and motifs, such as the “hellkite priest”, a cult-like religious figure, this is not strictly a concept album. Most of the tracks exist in this space, but not all of them.

In truth, though, it’s not much of a shift for seasoned listeners to get on board with. Vocalist Jonathan Higgs’ politically-driven lyrics have long offered a more multi-dimensional approach than straightforward, on-the-nose social commentary pop. 

Throughout, the four-piece operate as a coherent, cohesive unit. They’ve had this line-up since 2009, a year before their debut album ‘Man Alive’ came out, so it shouldn’t be surprising. But it is striking just how tight everything feels, from Michael Spearman’s drums to Alex Robertshaw’s infectious guitar lines.

The album begins with the squelchy bass of Wild Guess, which sounds a bit like the opening of Arctic Monkeys’ A Certain Romance if you ran it through an ‘80s pop filter. It’s End of the Contender, though, that causes ‘Mountainhead’ to truly burst into life. It’s instantly catchy, Higgs’ trademark falsetto takes pride of place, and it’s vintage EE.

R U Happy is a mellow, twinkly slice of Chvrches-esque synth-pop, while the juddering beats of Canary are mesmerising — the track wouldn’t feel out of place at a club in the Balearics as the sun goes down, or comes back up. Dagger’s Edge offers something heavier. It’s subtly chaotic, building up throughout until it winds down suddenly into the six minute City Song, a late album epic that is captivating even this deep into the piece.

Everything Everything have never been a band to take the easy way out, and their dedicated fanbase is a testament to that. They’ve built up more than enough goodwill to make a misstep at one point or another, but this isn’t one. It’s glorious.

Everything Everything Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue March 26 2024 - GLASGOW SWG3 Galvanizers
Wed March 27 2024 - LEEDS Leeds University Stylus
Fri March 29 2024 - MANCHESTER New Century
Sat March 30 2024 - MANCHESTER New Century
Sun March 31 2024 - BEXHILL ON SEA De La Warr Pavilion
Tue April 02 2024 - CAMBRIDGE Junction 1
Thu April 04 2024 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Fri April 05 2024 - LONDON Troxy
Sat April 06 2024 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol

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