"Girl you've been hitting that thread mill like a freak / Maybe you are not quite the torso of the week” sings Jonathon Higgs on 'Torso Of The Week', a song inspired by watching 'zombies on thread mills' searching for physical perfection and the band's concern about the external pressure placed on women to be thin. An unusual topic choice for four Mancunian lads but then it's difficult to pigeonhole anything relating to Everything Everthing.
While the 2010 debut 'Man Alive' made commercial ripples, critical acclaim and their inclusion on the shortlist for The Mercury Music Prize saw their audience expand. Determined to beat the curse of the 'difficult second album', 'Arc' is the band's self confessed attempt at producing more concise pop songs. 'Cough Cough', the album's lead single is just that. Its striking, energetic intro captures the attention instantly. The curious mix of indie pop, electro and break beat make for an odd song structure that is unexpectedly palatable. Still Everything Everything are no strangers to unusual song structures and although the album's sound is more polished and cohesive, it is Higgs' full voice in falsetto that becomes the thread that weaves 'Arc' together.
Unfortunately, he just doesn't have the razor sharp pitch, or natural pureness that an entire song sung in falsetto deserves, so an album full of it quickly becomes grating. If you're willing to forgive the prepubescent sounding vocals, the album does present some interesting ideas. The rhythmical guitar and wrenched vocals of 'Feet For Hands' has a vocal reminiscent of Thom Yorke and is surprisingly catchy. 'Amourland' meanwhile is a slick slice of alternative, wonky R&B and hits the mark as the album's closest thing to a mainstream pop hit. The same cannot be said for sombre ballad 'The Peaks'. Although it features a devastatingly poignant lyric and delicate piano melody, the arrangement only highlights the flaws in Higgs' vocal and you can't help but wish that a song this beautiful could have been recorded by a better singer.
Bassist and co-founder Jeremy Pritchard is surprised at the band's commercial success saying recently, "We're a pretty weird band." This is partly true as there is outside the box thinking with both lyrics and instrumentation but if anyone could make alternative pop sell-able, these boys just might be the ones to do it.
Review by Karen Lawler