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Everything Everything on bursting the listener’s bubble

“I think doubt is essential for living life, but I’m a big fan of faith and belief too…You can’t have one without the other.”

Everything Everything are a venus flytrap of a band, drawing the audience in with energetic dance licks and then subjecting them to unsettling meditations on work, war and politics. Their fourth studio album, A Fever Dream, lyricises on Trump and Brexit in a thundering style that gets you dancing without letting you get too comfortable.
 
To achieve a rawer sound, the band teamed up with James Ford, producer on four Arctic Monkeys albums and Klaxons’ Myths of the Near Future. The result is a euphoric, percussion-driven album that breaks from the finely calibrated electronic vibe of 2015’s Get to Heaven.
 
“The whole record ended up with more of a live sound to it,” says lead singer Jonathan Higgs. “We wanted it to be aggressive and realistic, with people, not just machines. Sometimes you can get too computerized and lose some of the soul.
 
“Funnily enough, the hardest track to put together was a song called ‘Put Me Together’. We got our drummer to play completely off the click, with no planned part, and to just jazz out all over the place. We set free on this song, and it made its magic where it would happen. The whole thing felt really experimental.”
 
Higgs isn’t a believer in escapism. His approach to songwriting reflects David Foster Wallace’s theory that art should be 49 percent pleasure, 51 percent pain. He draws heavy inspiration from the Beatles’ weird and asymmetrical later works, particularly ‘A Day in the Life’, with its absurdist mid-song apocalypse and rebirth.
 
“I think if things are too beautiful the whole time, then it kind of fades into the background,” Higgs says. “You’ve got to have the light with the dark, you’ve got to have corners and edges, otherwise things pass you by. That’s what all my favourite music has always done. It’s always had something wrong with it.”
 
A Fever Dream explores the world you see in your Facebook feed: an incomprehensible mosaic of ISIS atrocities, tweetstorms and cat gifs. “I hate the neighbours, they hate me too/The fear and the fury make me feel good,” Higgs gently croons on the title track, channelling a UKIP voter. The suggestion that hatred and aggression can become a source of comfort may be the album’s most unsettling theme. Everything Everything’s power emanates from their insistence on talking about things we usually listen to music to forget about.
 
A Fever Dream has a feel of bewilderment and doubt,” says Higgs, comparing it to the music video for 2015’s ‘Regret’, in which he took the persona of a tyrannical cult leader. “That was very confident, this is more about doubt and questioning.”
 
Everything Everything will deliver their tenebrous vision to Australia at Falls Festival. “Our show is pretty full-on, especially when we play festivals,” Higgs says. “It’s a whirlwind of emotions and drama. We don’t have any quiet songs. It’s just a wall-to-wall smash.”
 
Higgs also looks forward to experiencing Australia’s natural landscape for the first time since Everything Everything’s 2013 visit. “The surroundings are totally crazy, and the weather,” Higgs says. “The birds you hear singing, the types of insects that land on you, everything’s just different. It’s kind of insane, especially compared to where I’m from in Manchester, where it’s raining the whole time.”
 
And what about Everything Everything’s fifth album? It’s barely a wisp of an embryo at this point, Higgs says, although he has been drawing new inspiration from choral pieces like Zbigniew Preisner’s ‘Requiem for My Friend’ and other sacred music.
 
“I think doubt is essential for living life, but I’m a big fan of faith and belief too,” says Higgs. “You can’t have one without the other. I have faith in our animal nature. All our power, all of our technology and improvements can just sod off. But I believe the animal nature of man is something worth keeping.”

Everything Everything will perform at Falls Festival, coming through Lorne from Thursday December 28 to Sunday December 31. A Fever Dream is out now.