Album Reviews

Everything Everything – Mountainhead

(BMG) UK release date: 1 March 2024

Centred on a dystopian concept, the follow-up to Raw Data Feel is nevertheless full of instantly catchy indie-pop numbers, bursting with energy and hooks

Everything Everything - Mountainhead You can trust Everything Everything to do things a little bit differently. Their last album, Raw Data Feel, was written in conjunction with an Artificial Intelligence bot, long before AI became the go-to scare story of the chattering classes. Now, two years later, they’ve ditched the bot but returned with a concept album with an intriguing narrative.

Mountainhead is set in a futuristic dystopian society which is dominated by an enormous mountain. The elite of society live at the top of the mountain, while those at the bottom are forced to dig a deeper and deeper hole in order to build it. They have to avoid a giant golden snake called Creddahornis, while ultimately aiming to climb up to the top of the mountain – which is, ultimately, impossible. Oh, and at the top of the mountain, there’s an infinite mirror.

As a metaphor for capitalism, it’s arguably slightly clunky, but as a background to the band’s seventh album, it’s an intriguing premise. Not all the songs relate to this story but there are enough breadcrumbs thrown amongst the lyrics to make this reward repeated listening.

Of course a concept like this could easily come with music that becomes po-faced and hard to listen to. Happily, on Mountainhead, Everything Everything sound like a bound refreshed and reinvigorated – it’s full of instantly catchy indie-pop numbers, bursting with energy and hooks. Wild Guess is an understated opener, full of shiny synths and singer Jonathan Higgs setting out the story: “this is the most important thing you’ll ever buy from us” runs one line.

The End of The Contender is even better, a story about old-school men who don’t feel comfortable in an ever changing modern world – that sense of disorientation and confusion is beautifully depicted. There’s also the unusual if pleasing appearance of the phrase “it’s all about the Benjamins” in an Everything Everything song.

Tracks like Cold Reactor and The Mad Stone sound like old-school Everything Everything – the intricate guitar lines, the yelping vocals from Higgs – while songs like City Song seem to add a new dimension to the band’s sound: more restrained and reflective, almost shimmering with an edge of understated beauty. It’s a style perfected on one of the record’s best tracks, Enter The Mirror, a sparkling synth-pop anthem which appears to nod towards Taylor Swift‘s Karma at times.

Alex Robertson’s production also deserves some credit, with the guitarist adding lots of little subtle touches – the distorted guitar on Wild Guess, for instance, or the evocative strings which lay underneath Higgs’ vocals on the unsettling TV Dog.

The second half of the record is more wistful and reflective, although the disco-tinged Don’t Ask Me To Beg lays down some frantic, fractured beats on what could well be Everything Everything’s most danceable track to date. The Witness makes for a low-key, rather downbeat ending to the album (“the bird in the shed, it was looking at you, but you blew off its head, because that’s what we do” is the rather stark conclusion) but that’s possibly the only way to finish a dystopian nightmare like this.

It’s another intriguing step in the evolution of Everything Everything – it ultimately doesn’t matter whether you buy into the overarching concept of the record when the songs are as good as they are on Mountainhead.

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More on Everything Everything
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Everything Everything – Raw Data Feel
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