Everything Everything frontman Jonathan Higgs is glad to be back. After all, why wouldn’t he be? His band spent three years reaping the rewards that their unique brand of R&B influenced art-funk brought them, only to seemingly disappear from view after the commercial and critical success of 2013’s Arc. Some suspected burnout, while others wondered whether life in the band had proved to be too much for the five softly-spoken Northern boys. The truth, in fact, is simple – the band took some time off, before reconvening to write and record their new album, Get To Heaven.
It’s hard to believe that they haven’t played a gig for fifteen months. A British indie-rock scene without Everything Everything is tricky to imagine, and it’s safe to say that they’re still an astoundingly tight live unit. Tracks like Photoshop Handsome and Kemosabe are met with roars by the near-capacity crowd at Exeter’s Phoenix, while the distinctive introduction to set-closer Cough Cough is delivered with impeccable timing.
The show is not without its flaws – a few prolonged between-song breaks lead Higgs to claim that the band ‘aren’t as slick as we used to be’, while guitarist and backing vocalist Alex Robertshaw is forced to deal with numerous microphone issues throughout the band’s hour and fifteen minute set. None of this matters, though – the band are genuinely charming, and it’s hard not to warm to Higgs and bassist Jeremy Pritchard’s slightly fumbled between-song chatting with the audience.
The band primarily use tonight’s gig to showcase tracks from their new album Get To Heaven, and it’s these new songs that are the highlights of the night. New single Distant Past is an instant crowd-pleaser with a chorus that’s built for festival season, while the melancholy stomp of Regret gets the crowd singing along before the end of the first chorus. The new songs are fantastic, with at least two surefire made-for-radio singles showcased tonight.
Everything Everything are a bundle of contradictions. Take the new songs showcased tonight, for example – yes, they’ve still got the band’s trademark angular indie edge, but they’re more danceable than anything they’ve released thusfar. They’re artful slices of funk-rock, yet the choruses were clearly written with mainstream radio in mind. They’re complex yet simple, unstructured yet meticulously planned, and some of the best British indie songs we’ve heard for a while. Head down to a show on the band’s tour to hear them for yourself, and make sure that you get the new album when it’s released on June 15th. You won’t be disappointed.