Get to Heaven
Reviewed by: Bryan Culver
Imagine if Maroon 5 or Bruno Mars decided to switch gears and attempt a bold politically-conscious art-rock album akin to Radiohead’s OK Computer? Doesn’t sound like a very enticing idea for some reason, does it?
Everything Everything doesn’t seem to agree. Although their latest album Get to Heaven was released in the UK last summer to mixed reviews, the record is being released stateside today. Not sure why a six-month gap is necessary in an iTunes and Spotify-dominated marketplace. Nonetheless, this Manchester-based four-piece take radio-friendly hooks and combine them with political commentary, evocative imagery, and a generally dismal downtrodden take on life.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a place in this world for post-punk bands like Joy Division and Sonic Youth, but when you take similar music content, and package it in a way that it would otherwise fit nicely on a macro-brewery Super Bowl commercial, things start to get a little weird.
Get to Heaven does have it’s moments. The album itself is produced by three-time Grammy winner Stuart Price, who has also worked with Madonna, Pet Shop Boys, and The Killers. The singles are also bright and catchy, and you could certainly find yourself grooving to them while trying on clothes at The Gap. “Regrets” asks “did you ever watch your life slide out of your hands? / you wish it never had / but all of it’s in the past”. “Spring / Sun / Winter / Dread” takes a grim outlook on aging with “I don’t want to get older”. Each track is tightly composed, but as a whole, the album lacks cohesiveness, and drags on. 17 tracks?! Even the length comes off as a bit pretentious. On the one hand, you have these tightly packaged pop rock arrangements, glittering bursts of synth, angular guitar hooks, a welcoming falsetto. But you mix that with the oddity of Higgs lyrical content and it just comes together bizarrely. At times, headache-inducing.
Back to our Maroon 5 / Bruno Mars analogy: imagine you’re getting ready for a family road trip. You’re hitting the highway in your Chrysler minivan and you decide it was time to crank out some tunes. You pick the most family-friendly radio station but instead of “and when you smile / the whole world stops and stares for a while”, or perhaps “I don’t mind spending every day / out of your corner in the pouring rain” you get “saw off my stinking limbs / blood dripping down my sunken monkey chin”.
Sometimes things don’t go as planned.