In the lead up to their 2015 release ‘Get to Heaven’, Everything Everything began to reflect upon their sophomore effort ‘Arc’. Believing that “the feeling you get from ‘Arc’ is resignation and a bleak outlook”, their plan was to make their follow-up “colourful and vibrant and more upbeat than ‘Arc’”. While lyrically ‘Get to Heaven’ wasn’t exactly rainbows and the Disney Channel, the instrumentation was rich and full of vigour. From the animated singles of ‘Spring / Sun / Winter / Dread’ and ‘Distant Past’, to the powerful ‘No Reptiles’, ‘Get to Heaven’ showed that Everything Everything were continuing on the right path. Now in 2017 and their next step completed, where do the art rock quartet go next?
‘A Fever Dream’ starts with ‘Night of the Long Knives’ — and what a start it is. Utterly exhausting, but in the best way possible, Everything Everything build up and release their instrumentation in a cascading whirlwind of guitars and synths so many times it leaves you winded. As for frontman Jonathan Higgs, this track has him sounding at his very best, belting out the line: “It was a long time coming” with his signature falsetto vocals.
‘Can’t Do’ is your quintessential catchy Everything Everything first single. Bouncing, eclectic and infectious, this is what Everything Everything do best. Similarly for ‘Desire’, a track full of passion and stellar vocal harmonies, this is a band perfecting their craft with flawless results.
As for the title track, Everything Everything construct six minutes that evoke the feelings of said dream. Beginning with a soothing piano melody that pulls you into a sense of tranquillity, ‘A Fever Dream’ creeps up your spine as it builds and builds until its intensity leaves you in a state of confusion. This feeling of claustrophobia is also conveyed later on in ‘Ivory Tower’. Drowning out your consciousness with its all-consuming temperament, you’ll feel like you’ve woken from a cold sweat once it’s finished.
Elsewhere on the album, ‘Big Game’ and ‘Run The Numbers’ serve as the record’s somewhat heavier cuts. With the former starting with an array of woozy layers, it later bursts with a bombastic, stinking guitar line. ‘Run The Numbers’, the better of the two tracks, mixes a dirty guitar riff (and boy, it’s filthy) with clattering percussion for a solid and meaty affair. That being said, even though they certainly aren’t bad tracks, they are two of the album’s weakest points.
However, it’s with ‘Good Shot, Good Soldier’ and ‘Put Me Together’ where this LP truly shines. ‘Good Shot, Good Soldier’ is intoxicating with its gorgeous synths, staggered beats and overall spellbinding instrumentation, easily one of Everything Everything’s best tracks to date. This brilliance continues with the down-tempo ‘Put Me Together’. Fluttering in the middle with electronic symphonic bliss, ‘Put Me Together’ is an enveloping listen that captivates you from the moment it begins.
Preceded by the reflective ‘New Deep’ (“Is there something wrong with all of this / Or is there something wrong with me”), ‘A Fever Dream’ concludes on ‘White Whale’. Reminiscent to the latter material by The Maccabees (RIP), ‘White Whale’ is a sombre yet dignified finale that boasts progression.
Although the prospect of following up ‘Get to Heaven’ was a tough one, Everything Everything have welcomed this pressure with open arms. Bold, uncompromising and totally EE, ‘A Fever Dream’ further cements the idea that the Manchester outfit will one day be considered as one of art-pop’s true greats.
Words: Liam Egan
- - -
- - -