In June of 2015 we were treated to one of the more interesting pop albums of that year – Everything Everything’s Get to Heaven. The album featured an assortment of catchy, yet uniquely experimental/quirky up-beat songs, occasionally equipped with a undertone of melancholy or fear (“No Reptiles”). While the album was mostly an energetic trip into rein-visioned 80’s new wave meets fast-tempo rhyming, there was always a slight atmosphere of danger and madness that made the band feel unpredictable – particularly on the first listen. I can recall being repeatedly surprised by each new track, and being rather engrossed with every song’s unique experience. It’s rare for an entire album to keep my attention and receive such repeated rotation as Get to Heaven did.
The band’s latest album Fever Dream doesn’t stray too far from the musical tone of Get to Heaven, though it seems it attempts to be more subdued and subtle then the latter, and more instrumentally progressive and varied. I can recall listening to songs on Get to Heaven, like “No Reptiles” where the stripped down/basic instrumentation was contrasted with an assault of lyrical bullets being fired by lead vocalist Jonathan Higgs, and being completely encapsulated by the experience. Unfortunately I can’t say I felt that way at all on Fever Dream, nor was I particularly enthusiastic about any of the more straight-forward dance/pop songs (not that there were too many of them this time around).
One thing Fever Dream does do is feature song structure that seems to meander and get lost like on “Good Shot Good Soldier”, for example. The song starts out okay, with a catchy and stripped down beat, but quickly becomes rather boring and stagnant – as Jonathan constantly repeats his lines, which was interesting and refreshing to hear the first time around on Get to Heaven, which by this point in the album had already begun to feel tired. “Put Me Together” attempted to be a ballad of some sort, but the unrelenting high-hats, which often compliment Everything Everything’s music, in this case distracts from whatever atmosphere/emotion that this song was trying to convey; resulting in a boring mess of a song that, at least, ends a tad bit stronger than it begins.
At times Everything Everything stray into more straightforward rock territory (reminiscent of a more electronic Arctic Monkeys ala their last album), like on “Run the Numbers” and “White Whale”, but it unfortunately ends up being nothing memorable. These songs are decent, and instrumentally solid, but they don’t stick around in memory (“White Whale” slightly more so than “Run the Numbers” nor does anything (besides the focus on guitar) to warrant much recognition.
The slightly more subdued approach of Fever Dream does not pay off much, as the album instrumentation, while impressive and enjoyable, is not particularly memorable or immediately striking upon listening. I can still return to Get to Heaven and immediately be entranced in more than half of the album, jumping in at any point – this is not, however, the case for Fever Dream, as every song on here feels like an attempt to reach musical and emotional depth, without being particularly too interesting while doing it. The best part of the title track, “Fever Dream”, ends up sounding like a catchy “Plastic Beach” era Gorillaz song meets Cut Copy. Unfortunately, what I liked about Everything Everything has nothing to do with either of those bands, so it’s immensely unfortunate.
I thought the first half of the song song “Ivory Tower” could have been taken off of Get to Heaven, as it just sounds like a bizarre amalgamation of a few songs from the previous album, which may just be their fans’ fancy, but it’s mostly disappointing to me. The payoff at the end of the track makes up for it though, as I did find myself repeat listening to the solo and enjoying it.
Overall, this is far from a bad album, but considering how impressive Get to Heaven was, it’s difficult to give compliments to this album – knowing how much better in nearly every way the previous album was. I give considerable credit to the band for attempting to expand and vary their sound on this album, going far more progressive and incorporating some impressive guitar solos (“Ivory Tower”), but I am also considerable dissapointed in Fever Dream being essentially a bland and forgettable version of Get to Heaven,with half of the energy.