Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Best Laid Plans: Everything Everything's "Get to Heaven"

I don’t drink or binge shop or other things that people characteristically do when on a boat for a week, but the part of me that likes to stand on the beach and stare out at the ocean really, really likes cruise life.  Last week, I was lucky enough to go on a 7 day trek at sea with my extended family, and I was really looking forward to getting my Father's Day music on the phone, circumambulating the decks, and pondering existence.

Not all music works well in all settings, however, particularly when the entire family is involved. I have to be somewhat sensitive if I am to continue assaulting them with my compulsive listening habits. Out of kindness to them, I did not lean too hard on the new Kayo Dot release, but a cursory spin of Everything Everything’s Get to Heaven definitely caught my attention.  The album's production is immediately punchy, and lead man Jonathan Higgs has a falsetto that just won't quit.  I suspected that the band's quirky, colorful take on British pop would get the whole family moving in their seats.

I was sooo right.

Everything Everything is, in essence, a pop band, and as such they hang their accessibility on great, memorable hooks.  There are, however, theatrical excursions and hidden complexities incorporated in their songs that move away from these central ideas and returns to them in very musically satisfying ways.  The album’s adventurous musicality never detracts, however, and despite being incredibly diverse, the songs still remain coherent and just plain fun to listen to.   I looked forward to absorbing the entire album poolside.

Which I was able to an extent. Within 48 hours, I was, indeed, poolside with Get to Heaven on the player, but I was also in charge of watching P as she played in the kids area.  As a result, my attention was mostly divided as I watched her splash around and make new friends on the boat. It was not quite the focused listen that I had envisioned, but the album’s dancehall overtones layered well with the overall vibe.  Especially this relentlessly infectious gem:

Everything Everything is able to bear the weight of decades of british pop on their shoulders with relative grace.  They inhabit a spectrum that juxtaposes the introspective pop-prog of early Radiohead with the slightly goofy textures of The Gorillaz, perhaps like what would happen if Damon Albarn took a turn singing for Level 42.  I was just considering the implications of this proposed polarity on the dissonance between the album’s sunny musical exterior and the sometimes melancholy nature of its lyrics when catastrophe struck.

We engaged in an almost comical struggle to keep our cabin organized, and in the midst of clean, gently worn, and dirty clothes, I lost my earphones.  Bummer.

Music was suddenly confined to our cabin, which kind of put a damper on my plans to walk the decks and pontificate as I had on my previous cruise experience. Kayo Dot would have to wait.  By this time, however, Get to Heaven had evolved into a family favorite, and I would play some of the more energetic tracks to generate daily spontaneous dance parties in the cabin.

P currently describes Distant Past as her "favorite song," although she, along with my wife, really enjoy Get to Heaven in its entirety.  Admittedly. a few songs seem to be framed as "singles," but the album's most disarming feature is its consistency.  There really isn't a bad track in the bunch, although there might be a few perceived "lulls" after particularly spectacular moments.  Taken on their own, however, these songs are still fantastically creative while retaining their accessibility, which is always a recipe for success in my book.

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