I’ll start by calling on the age old saying, ‘Expectations are only as high as your last album was good’. Granted, I may have just made that badly-phrased saying up, but my experience with RE-ANIMATOR by Everything Everything is so intrinsically linked to my experience with their last album A Fever Dream that I have to start the review mentioning it.
Before that album, I was only a mild Everything Everything fan. I certainly knew of them and recognised the likes ‘Cough Cough’ and ‘Kemosabe’, but I wasn’t fully versed on their back catalogue. So, for me, A Fever Dream was a massive step up, full of layers and diverse music styles. It opened me up to become a massive fan of the band in the years that followed (a brilliant gig in Manchester with fellow Picky Bastard Nick surely the highlight). Going into RE-ANIMATOR, I was now a fan awaiting new music from one of my favourite bands.
Perhaps that’s why this record doesn’t seem to reach my now-high expectations of the group. It’s certainly recognisably an ‘Everything Everything’ record, their sound now fully formed on the albums since 2015’s Get To Heaven. Jonathan Higgs’s voice is as striking as ever – there really isn’t anyone else who sounds like him in music right now, making every track here instantly recognisable as an EE song. Here, his voice soars on ‘Planets’, is delicate on ‘In Birdsong’ and full of staccato on ‘Big Climb’.
RE-ANIMATOR is one of those albums that seems to be functionally all there: the glitchy percussion on ‘Lord of the Trapdoor’ alongside heavy guitar works well, and the steady build-up of opener ‘Lost Powers’ makes sense too. But there’s just something missing that would make me want to go back and listen. I was really excited when the album was released and it feels like that excitement has all but dissipated now that I actually have it.
What that missing thing is exactly I don’t know. Of course, that’s what I’m supposed to be doing with a review of an album, which makes the only job I have to do here an obvious failure, but did you really expect anything more than a vague ‘it’s just not as amazing as I wanted’ from me?
That thing is definitely here on a handful of tracks. The first single, ‘In Birdsong’, is one of the prettiest things the band have ever released, while ‘Big Climb’ is bound to come alive when the band perform it in concert (preferably this decade). ‘The Actor’ is one of the most interesting things here, coming off like a Fleetwood Mac song playing in a tumble dryer; surprisingly something I quite like. But on others, like ‘Black Hyena’, it feels like there’s just a flash of joy or something truly unexpected missing. There’s certainly light and shade on ‘Moonlight’, but I could barely remember the track each time I’d come back to it.
There’s nothing as daring on here as ‘Qwerty Finger’, nothing as instantly catchy as ‘Distant Past’, nothing as irritatingly glitchy as ‘Cough Cough’ and nothing as lyrically engaging as ‘Big Game’. RE-ANIMATOR is just another set of good Everything Everything songs, but not much more than that.
Words by Sam Atkins