Everything Everything - Man Alive

Gwyn Bandfield 08/09/2010

Rating: 4/5

It'd be fair to say that in 2010 Britain is sorely lacking in any exciting, innovative new indie guitar bands. Ever since the rise of The Strokes and The Libertines in the early noughties the genre has become been saturated in a sea of imitators, and though this has given rise to some pleasant enough offerings, in recent times the format's certainly growing a little stale.

One band, however, who seem determined to drag the tired genre from the brink of the abyss and inject it with some much needed energy are the much-hyped Manchester four piece Everything Everything. To do this, they've created Man Alive, an album filled to the brim with countless different sounds and ideas - a rampant blend of post-punk guitars, throbbing synths, slick R&B melodies, and soaring three part harmonies spear-headed by lead singer Jonathan's gatling gun falsetto.

Album opener and previously released single 'MY KZ UR BF' serves as a perfect introduction to the band's sound, with an off-kilter keyboard-laden rhythm and plenty of harmonious wooing and woahing. It also features perhaps the finest example of the band's bizzare lyrics: “It's like I'm watching the A4 paper taking over the guillotine.”

The infectious 'Schoolin'' is the most blatant homage to the band's R&B influences, with a wavering melody and a delightful whistley noise smattered between verses. 'Suffragette Suffragette' makes a welcome return as well, after first being released back in 2008, and is the track most likely to draw post-punk comparisons with a soaring chorus fleshed out with some chunky riffing.

In a bold move for a band renowned for such frenetic singles, there are also a few softer, more refrained, almost minimalistic moments on the album. And it's a move that pays off on album highlight 'Final Form', which - when stripped down and given some room to breathe - really highlights the band's knack for writing a good melody and verges on an almost Radiohead-esque beauty.

This isn't to say Man Alive is without it's flaws. Compared to some of the other tracks 'Qwerty Finger' feels like it's lacking some kind of hook, like 'Schoolin'' without the whistling. The inclusion of what can only be assumed is a harpsichord that forms the backbone of 'Two for Nero' is a nice idea but seems to tinkle along for a bit too long before the gentle drums and bass kick in and comes across a bit thin. Album closer 'Weights' feels a bit tacked on too and doesn't seem to offer anything much interesting to the record.

Man Alive certainly isn't the perfectly crafted album some critics are lauding it as but it does show incredible potential. Everything Everything come across as a band that are still very much finding their feet and the record almost seems like an exercise in sonic experimentation. On the moments when they get it right, they create a rich, sprawling, textured mesh of melodies brimming with promise, and I have every confidence that with a second, more refined record the band will be catapulted to the stratospheric success they deserve.