Award-winning British band Everything Everything released their highly anticipated fourth studio album, A Fever Dream.
Produced by James Ford (Florence + The Machine, Arctic Monkeys, Depeche Mode) features energy-filled, intelligent socio-pop gems such as “Can’t Do” and their most recent single, “Desire.” A Fever Dream serves as the follow up to Everything Everything’s critically acclaimed 2015 album, Get To Heaven.
Across three albums, immense acclaim and intense adoration, the sound of Everything Everything has remained a volatile beast; a musical bucking bronco, their albums maximalist, frenetic, art-pop juxtapositions of R’n’B and melancholia and Afrobeat, of synths, guitars, falsetto. Critics have written of the frenzy of it, of the sheer sublime sweet sensory overload of it all. Their fourth album, A Fever Dream, is a quite different prospect: a calibration of chaos and control, the result of a curious desire for consistency. As guitarist Alex Robertshaw puts it: “Our records have been many styles rubbing up against each other, and for the first time I wanted to make a record that was cohesive sonically.”
Midway through touring with Get To Heaven, Robertshaw found himself listening increasingly to the kind of electronic music he had loved as a teenager — early Warp Records releases, Aphex Twin, Autechre, Boards of Canada, relishing “the atmosphere and the attitude” of them. “I wanted to go back to that thing that first made me excited about music,” he says. “We’ve spent a lot of time going into that R’n’B and hip-hop world — for an indie band it was a bit of an untouchable thing, and it was really fun to do and I think we captured it at its best with Kemosabe and Arc. But once you start doing that you kind of separate yourself.”
In talking about the new album’s sound, singer Jonathan Higgs explains “It’s kind of a mixture of the sounds of our adolescence I suppose – the electronic stuff mixed with American heavy bands of the early-mid 90s. As a result, there’s also a lot of adolescent riffy guitar-playing on the album. Guitar music is really where we came from, all of us. Then we grew up a bit and it went out of fashion, but really that’s what excites us hugely. And because we always had a plan on not being like that early on it feels really good to do it now.”
While bassist Jeremy Pritchard and drummer Michael Spearman joined later in the studio under the watchful eye of producer James Ford, the album began with Higgs and Robertshaw, Everything Everything’s principal songwriters. This has been their most collaborative record to date, seeing the pair working together on every track, with Higgs’s more dramatic pop sensibilities tempered by what he simply describes as Robertshaw’s “cool”.
In many ways, A Fever Dream is the logical thematic successor to Get To Heaven’s exploration of rolling news culture — a portrait of a world grown relentless and unfathomable, whatever your nationality or political persuasion. “I really didn’t want to be too explicit about world events,” Higgs says. “Everyone’s pretty aware of what is going on. But I wanted to make a record about how this has all affected us, not just me and you, but everyone around us. I think people come to us for a sense of recognition. They want to hear someone else say what they’re feeling. And that’s what I’ve always gone to music for, and I hope that’s what we put out – the ‘Do you feel like me?’ message, rather than anything more concrete. It doesn’t interest me to be preachy, it just turns everybody off, including me.”
One track, “Ivory Tower,” is a particularly striking reflection of the times — a spewing-forth of what Robertshaw politely terms “a lot of hugely unacceptable language” in a portrait of an increasingly faceless and impersonal world. “’Ivory Tower’ deals with very extreme stuff,” says Higgs. “It’s a reaction to the nasty side of everything we’ve had lately, like all the stuff on immigration. But I’m not looking at it objectively I’m going right in there and saying lots of awful things that everyone’s saying at each other – so I’m having a go at the liberal elite and I’m having a go at the small-minded racists, all this stuff at the same time. And it’s just this rage, this really fast, violent song. And it’s a way to get all that horrible shit out of us. And when you hear it on the record it does just sound like someone kicking down your door. But I’m not setting out my stall — it’s a photograph of now, a snapshot of how it feels to be alive at the moment.”
A Fever Dream is a rare and quite remarkable achievement: an album that is charged and political, that takes the temperature of the times, that will surely stand as one of the year’s most important albums, yet on a most visceral level is arresting, beautiful, tender, and thoroughly, irresistibly danceable. It is that exceptional kind of record that demands cerebral, emotional and physical response — as Higgs says: “You shouldn’t be sitting down the first time you hear it.”
You can catch Everything Everything in Austraila in January of 2018, in Dublin on February 28th, followed by a United Kingdom tour through the month of March.