I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Everything Everything. They were one of the first bands I truly got into – due to their ridiculous yet honest lyrics (just listen to ‘No Reptiles’), hyperactive instrumentation and extremely catchy choruses. Their last album Get To Heaven, ended up being their best yet. It struck a perfect balance between being fun and thought-provoking, taking a more politically charged tone than their past releases.
A Fever Dream is similarly a political album. Take opener ‘Night of the Long Knives’ for example, in which Jonathan Higgs sings about a city being bombed during war. His blasé tone on the song’s hook – ‘Man, I know it’s a real big shame about your neighbourhood’ – is chilling, highlighting the lack of sympathy that a lot of people in the West have for wars and conflicts that don’t affect them directly. It strikes that balance that Everything Everything’s best tracks do, being clever and horrifying at the same time. The instrumentation compliments the song well, with the synths almost resembling the sound of sirens.
Like I said, politics run through much of the album. ‘Big Game’ comes across almost as a Donald Trump diss track (with Higgs referring to him as a ‘bovine balloon’), while ‘Good Shot, Good Soldier’ and ‘Ivory Tower’ make clear allusions to issues of racial prejudice. It’s these songs that have the most power to them on the album. Lead single ‘Can’t Do’, one of the few songs without a political edge, feels like a falter for the band. Though this may just be because the song’s about writer’s block, which, to be honest, is one of the least interesting themes the band could’ve chosen to write about. It’s not a bad song, but it’s definitely missing that something that Everything Everything’s best songs have (like ‘Cough Cough’ and ‘Distant Past’).
Luckily though, there are plenty of other songs on here that do reach the high-energy heights of the band’s best work. In addition to ‘Night of the Long Knives’, ‘Desire’ is an incredible amount of fun – with its downright explosive chorus – and ‘Ivory Tower’ has some of the most frantic instrumentation featured on an Everything Everything song in a while. The guitars, the bass, the drums… The band are just at top performance on this song. Paired with some pretty cutting lyrics about class, it’s easily one of the strongest songs the band has put out.
A Fever Dream also features a lot of slow moments as well, which does let it down in some ways. Many of the slow songs are great individually, such as the title track and the moving ‘Put Me Together’, but they do make the middle part of the album drag a little bit. After three energetic tracks at its beginning (‘Night of the Long Knives’, ‘Can’t Do’, ‘Desire’), A Fever Dream drops its pace significantly and doesn’t really recover until near the end with ‘Ivory Tower’. The album closes with one last slow track, but luckily it’s a fantastic one. ‘White Whale’ is straightforward love song, something the band don’t do often, centring around a great hook: ‘Your love is like the white whale’.
Pacing issues aside, A Fever Dream is an incredible album and shows Everything Everything continuing to do what they do best… Whether it’s better than Get To Heaven it’s too early to say, but I’d definitely say it’s just as good.
Best Tracks: ‘Night of the Long Knives’, ‘Desire’, ‘Ivory Tower’