Single Review: Everything Everything – ‘Teletype’ ‘Bad Friday’
Harry Hawkins Print Music Editor, discusses the Manchester quartet’s singles released in advance of their 6th album
The 10-year plus period of a band’s life can be a proving ground for bands, with many groups losing their initial spark and uniqueness, particularly in the kind of pop-friendly indie and math-rock stylings that Everything Everything are known to inhabit. However, it’s clear that as 6th album Raw Data Feel approaches, none of the band have been slacking off: singer Jonathan Higgs managed to use his lockdown time to learn the 3D sculpting tool Blender, which was fruitful in helping produce some fantastically deranged music videos for previous album RE-ANIMATOR’s singles. Guitarist Alex Robertshaw has taken up modular synth, and now handles the band’s production too. And bassist Jeremy Pritchard and drummer Mike Spearman have taken tours of some other great British bands – Foals and Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree respectively.
Is this work all for naught, though?
Fortunately not – whilst we are certainly in a new era of the band, some things (like Jon’s ear for melody, and unpredictable musical structures) have happily stayed the same.
alternately ominous and effervescent
‘Bad Friday’ tempers the sweetshop rollercoaster thrill that the band’s best hits contain with a dose of minimalism as found in more recent works, and the effect is a single that is alternately ominous and effervescent. Jon’s vocal lines are some of his most unapologetically pop yet (hilariously, the song’s chorus matches up to Ke$ha’s Die Young eerily well), whilst still keeping an edge with lyrics describing an undescribed ‘bad night out’. The tapping beat, barbershop backing vocals and donking synths allow the song to indulge in Lovecraftian unease whilst also feeling like an alternate-universe club banger. Whilst lyrics could be considered more generic than the non-sequitur, evolution-referencing tongue twisters of earlier EE songs, the impressionistic writing allows us as listeners to make up our own minds to what is happening. For me, however, my full faith in the band’s new direction was sealed with the release of ‘Teletype’.
sounds from other worlds whirl alongside Jon’s vocal performance
As the band goes into its 6th record, Jonathan appears (and admits) to be more at ease with occasional lyrical cliché, though their uses reflect more universal struggles. Appearing fluorescent pink in a Q&A before the single releases, singer Jonathan Higgs describes the crazy sounds that kick off ‘Teletype’ as arising from guitar and vocal samples randomized through a modular synth, providing glitchy production that melts into a pulsing and almost bashful (for Everything Everything) verse. Jeremy’s galloping bassline and Mike’s electronic percussion keep foundation whilst Alex’s sounds from other worlds whirl alongside Jon’s vocal performance, which feels markedly rawer with no overdub or backing vocals. The refrain of ‘Don’t talk a lot, but I like it because I can’t tell you everything that went on’ comes as a triumph, with the band approaching the emotional earnestness of early Coldplay.
‘Teletype’s music video uses a variety of AI generated fake faces aligned onto Jon’s head as he took motion-capture footage of himself singing the song – though with the AI faces warping between small children and hairy old men, eerie glitches seem almost bound to happen. (Some particularly warped, barely human looking frame in the video contains botched footage of Jon’s elbow being recognised by the algorithm as a face.) The overall effect reminds strongly of the concept of ‘sonder’ – that recognition of the richness of the lives of every person around – and is one of the most emotionally potent videos I have seen in a while despite its glitchy, unchoreographed nature.
Raw Data Feel arrives May 20th and the band is set to tour the UK from late March through May, with a smaller album release tour after Raw Data Feel drops.