Favorite Track: "Lord of the Trapdoor" Least Favorite Track: "In Birdsong"
As I was scrolling through Instagram one day, I saw a story post from popular music meme/discussion page PageForMusicChads, boldly stating that the Manchester natives, Everything Everything’s 2015 studio effort Get To Heaven was the most important album of the decade. This intrigued me, as such a bold statement had to have some substance behind it, especially coming from someone whose musical opinions I generally respected. Ultimately, I gave the record a listen, and to my surprise, it was great. It didn’t blow me away, but it was definitely a fun listen and I added a few tracks to my playlist. Slowly but surely though, I found myself coming back to the record more and more often. The infectious hooks of “Distant Past” and “Get To Heaven” feature some sticky vocal melodies, sung by the truly unique voice of Jonathan Higgs to boot. Now I listen to the record and hear nothing but pure genius, musically and lyrically. The instrumentation is sweet and invigorating, the vocals are wonderfully quirky, and the entire vibe of the album is progressive to the pop canon in a way not many records have ever achieved. I don’t know if I would go so far as to call it “the most important album of the decade”, but the musical importance of the album is undeniable nonetheless.
Naturally, the importance of Get To Heaven got me increasingly excited for the group’s newest album, RE-ANIMATOR. Unfortunately, it is hard to create an album that somehow tops a near-perfect piece of work, and leaves a lot of room for disappointment. After a few listens, RE-ANIMATOR became increasingly perplexing to me, as my opinion seemed to waver every listen. The interesting and experimental pop production that was very artful in its nature kept drawing me back, but there were too many songs that either seemed too basic and boring or way too Radiohead inspired for me to feel like I was listening to the band I once saw as being at the peak of the cutting edge.
Finally, I came to the conclusion that RE-ANIMATOR is decent, but is way too bottom heavy to really wow me. The last 4 tracks do little to nothing for me even if the first leg of the record is incredible. The track “Black Hyena” just has an obnoxious chorus that is mind-numbing. The tracks “In Birdsong” and “The Actor” both just feel to offer too little musically, along with the former being mixed terribly in the second half of the track, sporting some overblown instrumentation that does not compliment the overall calm vibe of the track very well.
However, the first seven tracks of the record, although a bit derivative, are fantastic. The track “Lord of the Trapdoor” is easily one of the best tracks I have heard this year. It is eerie, slightly unsettling, and resolves itself nicely with an absolutely roaring guitar solo near the end. “Big Climb” and “Planets” are electronically inspired, transcendent bangers that feel larger than life. The opening track “Lost Powers” is a fantastic slow burner and sets the tone really well. All this makes me wonder though, how is Everything Everything capable of putting together a first half of a record this astonishingly good and then a back half that is so underwhelming it completely undermines the quality of the album? The best answer I can come up with for this record is that the songs that sound like Everything Everything make the record, and the songs that sound like hard Radiohead covers break it.
In general, I don’t find this record bad, and I see it to be an interesting addition to Everything Everything’s discography, but instead I find it slightly disappointing, and maybe a bit misguided. This record feels like such a misfire, and based off the first leg of the record I saw this being one of my favorite albums of the year, and instead it really just falls flat for me as a cohesive project. While every artist obviously takes influence from other artists, it is important to find your own sound so that you can stick out, and it becomes increasingly frustrating to see a band that I feel already found an incredible sound regressing into copycatting. If you are just looking for some great singles to casually find enjoyment in, RE-ANIMATOR is a perfectly adequate record, but as a fully realized project, it does little to nothing but provide some decent tracks and re-animate Hail To The Thief era Radiohead.