Sunday, October 24, 2010

Everything Everything - Man Alive

01. MY KZ, UR BF
02. Qwerty Finger
03. Schoolin'
04. Leave The Engine Room
05. Final Form
06. Photoshop Handsome
07. Two For Nero
08. Suffragette Suffragette
09. Come Alive Diana
10. NASA Is On Your Side
11. Tin (The Manhole)
12. Weights

There's a recurring gag on "The Simpsons" based around Homer's gluttony leading to all manner of culinary curiosities: sometimes the results work, as with his patented Space-Age Out-of-This-World Moon Waffles (caramel, waffle batter, a stick of butter, liquid smoke); more often than not, he finds out the hard way that a combination of, say, Tom Collins mix, cloves, and a frozen pie crust is no substitute for a decent breakfast. Like that disaster, Everything Everything's debut LP, Man Alive, is proof that enthusiastic experimentation can't save your end product when the underlying elements are so incompatible and unappetizing.

Even before you consider their name, song titles like "My Kz, Ur Bf", "Qwerty Finger", and "Photoshop Handsome" imply EE are a product of media overload and social-networking culture-- the self-absorbed musical equivalent of having 12 browsers open at the same time. To apparently a lot of people this is a good thing. (Sample prerelease hype: EE sound like the Futureheads and Animal Collective.) But stuffing everything humanly possible into your songs can be overwhelming, if not identity-sapping. The first 10 or so seconds of this record is pretty much the only span with any negative space-- and even that resembles the obelisk-staring intro of Coldplay's "Square One". From there on, Man Alive is jacked up with bizarre key changes, superfluous time-signature switches, electro noodling, and half-rap lyrics delivered in run-on melodies, and you ultimately think, "hey, what would happen if Dismemberment Plan got a crash course in Pro Tools and a record deal with Fueled By Ramen?" Everything Everything aren't afraid to answer those tough questions.

All jokes aside, it actually is an interesting gambit to find a continuum within all of those coordinates in terms of bands interacting with personal computing-- after all, D-Plan had a frontman who was essentially a poptimist blogger before we knew what to call it. But even crediting Everything Everything's unclassifiable combination of itchy art-rock, pop-locking electro, and straight-up Brit indie to musical omnivorism, there's a problem that is impossible to get around: If anyone's got a more irritating voice than Jonathan Everything, they probably also have a harp and a few good stories to tell. It's not the constant falsetto that's the problem-- Passion Pit and the Darkness had that, but they also owned their own ridiculousness (not to mention songwriting chops). Jonathan Everything merely inflicts wispy, intrusive papercuts on your eardrums. Hearing it for the first time is akin to seeing a roach-- unpleasant and unexpected, but then you start to worry about where you'll find the next one. And Man Alive is absolutely infested.

And yet, I'd still recommend at least a cursory shot at "My Kz, Ur Bf", because even if it's a particularly annoying song and you can't quite pick out whether Everything is seeking to get caught in flagrante with your boyfriend or your girlfriend, it does have something of a pleasant whiff of 90s alternative radio. Granted, it comes on way too strong and is a complete mess, but it's certainly their mess. Credit Everything Everything for finding their own niche, but it's one that's been unoccupied for good


  1. hxxp://

    thanks to Blast40185

  2. You're cherry-picking songs to fit your argument. There is plenty of 'negative space', Two For Nero, NASA Is On Your Side, the last two tracks.

    I will concede that enjoyment of this band is hugely due to personal preferences though; I love the chaos because I find it engaging, especially in contrast with the trend for po-faced wispy harmonies that have become the norm in indie music, but each to their own.