everything everything – live review

[one from the archive]

Everything isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

Image result for everything everything concorde 2

Everything Everything has to be one of the most apt band names around. These prog indie (Prindie?) guys from Manchester via Newscastle, Kent and Guernsey want it all…twice. However, as last year’s long player ‘Man Alive’ showed, they want too much – cramming so many ideas, melodies, styles and time signatures into each song that the hooks can be overwhelmed. And it was the hooks that the Concorde 2’s young and enthusiastic crowd depended on.

They may be only one album in, but it’s clear that EE are already defining their own style…and tonight this was matching khaki jumpsuits. Taking into account singer Jonathan Higgs’ appearance as a cross between Will Young and Mark ‘Level 42’ King, and the searchlights that herald the band’s arrival on stage, the impression was less Devo, more ‘gayest squadron in the RAF’.

Thankfully, opener ‘Final Form’ makes you forget their appearance for a moment. Sub-bass, floor toms and the gorgeous bell tones of guitarist Alex Robertshaw drove Higgs’ falsetto vocal to euphoric heights. Moments like this leave impressions of Wild Beasts, Bloc Party and Of Montreal, and that’s a good thing. But by third song ‘Come Alive Diana’, the awkward, ADD-shaped troughs had started to appear between the peaks. Imagine The New Pornographers on a really bad day, playing all their songs at once, and you won’t be far off.

All this up and down made for a queasy journey. The peaks were rarely maintained for long enough, even within songs. The biggest reactions – singalongs to ‘Leave the Engine Room’, pogoing to ‘MY KZ, UR BF’ and crowd surfing to ‘Suffragette, Suffragette’ – were therefore bittersweet, and caused itchy shuffling as the audience tried to find its rhythm.

Higgs’ voice is the source of much of this love/hate wrestle. ‘Schoolin’’, for example, brings to mind Jimmy Somerville singing Kanye whilst hopped up on Marmite, and not in a good way. Whilst on a “brand new song”, the half rapping, electronic sounding vocal bridging drives a – dare I say it – Black Eyed Peas-y tune. Keeping it simple(r) pays off and hints at a more linear and more accessible direction.

Perhaps their final song of the night ‘Photoshop Handsome’ sums it up the best: “More dollar, less scholar, less time!” Future success will need more feeling and less thinking. After all, as American comedian Steven Wright once said: “You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?”

Everything Everything, Concorde 2, 24 June 2011

Original music criticism for Brighton Noise

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