Get to Heaven is a strange creature. Upon first hearing its lead single ‘Distant Past’, I envisioned the release to be like an amiable, energetic puppy – slightly annoying and desperate for affection. It has by far the hookiest of many hooks on this album, the chorus riff playing out like a 90’s dance tune, making me think that the band had sold themselves a little short of their usual ingenious playfulness. It would definitely be a little short-sighted to see it this way though. Everything Everything have garnered themselves a reputation for ambitious, idiosyncratic pop, which though seeming a little jarring and frantic at times, is always totally lucid. We can suppose then, that the dance riff from ‘Distant Past’ and the epic spaceship-take-off-style score on ‘No Reptile’ are tongue-in-cheek, both dripping with irony. Though a touch of sonic experimentation has been lost, as the band stick to some familiar patterns, Get to Heaven is a much more sinister beast than is anticipated from the sound, dragging us into a grotesque cartoon-universe and slitting our throats with Jonathan Higgs’ knife-edged vocals and cutting lyrical observations of an automaton existence.
This record has a lot to live up to: its predecessors, debut Man Alive was nominated for the Mercury Prize and the critically acclaimed Arc peaked at number 5 in the UK album charts. For me, it’s sure made it up there as an important release for 2015 with its clever, mischievous critique of contemporary society. It’s catchy enough for mainstream success but also dark and odd enough for the rest of us.
Title track ‘Get to Heaven’ would have been a better choice of lead single, reminiscent of Arc’s great ‘Kemosabe’ with Higgs’ superhuman falsetto fluttering out a chorus of fizzy sherbet-sweet melody. Sherbet-sweet, though with a incisive, citric bite; its harsh reality as sugar-coated as the stories spun by politicians about the future. Higgs sings: “out in the cold, there’s an old man lying down in the flames tonight.. he whistles as they’re sweeping him up alright.” Everything Everything have created a frightening, carnivalesque reflection of 21st century Britain; one populated by brazen images of sub-human “barbarians”, people masked with baboon faces, slaves and sweet-talking politicians. Even God has been usurped by the internet; all that we are left with is an artificial heaven which we can’t get to without our password.
The scope of the album is hugely dynamic, both musically and conceptually; the band striding for the big ideas, flirting with their anxieties over the state of the self and the fate of humanity. Menace bubbles constantly below the surface as our lives are presented to us in all their sickly, theatrical alienation. It’s about humans who have been reduced to a powerless, empty existence; we’re no more than fat children in push-chairs, living in the absurd game show of life. It’s about making sense of the senselessness of our everyday existence, but without providing any answers, perhaps because there are none. Or maybe, as abrasive and elusive as Everything Everything are in their shameless, self-consciously pretentious frolicking – it’s not about that at all.By Sophie Brear