Editors’ Notes Even before 2020 began to do its worst, Everything Everything’s Jonathan Higgs was tired of reflecting on the world’s horrors. He’d done it on his band’s third album Get to Heaven in 2015, and again on 2017’s Mercury-nominated A Fever Dream. “I hit a brick wall and thought, ‘I don't want to talk about how I’m miserable all the time,’” he tells Apple Music. “I don't want to talk about how crap the world is. I want to talk about something new, something a bit more hopeful and something a bit more rejuvenated.” That something revealed itself when Higgs read about bicameral mind theory in psychology and neuroscience, which proposes that the human mind was once divided into two separate chambers—one that spoke and one that listened. As the hypothesis goes, the evolution of those two minds into one marked the dawn of human consciousness. “It blew my mind in a new way and made me think about big questions,” he says. Soon, songs about detachment, resurrection, bogeymen, and deities composed of congealed fat began to form for this, the band’s fifth album.

With these new lyrical ideas blossoming, the four-piece also found new ways to make music. Previously they would methodically build perfection: recording multiple takes of one song and binding together the best bits and snippets. RE-ANIMATOR embraces a looser, faster process—without sacrificing their knack for fusing art-rock experimentation with pop hooks. “We just got everything done in two weeks,” says multi-instrumentalist Alex Robertshaw. “We forced ourselves to move on before we ended up with 60 bass takes. There’s loads of mistakes all over the record, but we left them in because it’s real. I think people like us as a live band, and I never felt like we’ve really managed to get that across on record before.” Here, the pair talk us through the album track by track.

Lost Powers
Alex Robertshaw: “This was just a piano thing, almost like a sad ballad, that existed on my laptop for ages. I played it to Jon and we tried to turn the whole thing on its head. It went through a few different lives.”
Jonathan Higgs: “There was a very grungy version, almost like The Bends, that we really liked but it was just too much of a pastiche. We modernized it a bit, and it came out sounding so positive even though it’s about being insane and being a conspiracy person. ‘It’s all right, you’ve just gone mad, don’t worry about it’—that’s the sort of rousing theme. It feels like it’s putting its arm round you, where in the past we tried to scare you or dazzle you with the first song. This is more like, ‘Don’t worry about it, this is going to be a good album, I know everything is a bit mental at the moment.’”

Big Climb
JH: “It has this theme of climate change and nihilism and was meant to be like a teen anthem for kids that don’t care that the world’s going to go, because they didn’t fuck it up—the boomers, the previous people, did. It’s saying, ‘We don't even want to survive in your crappy world that you’ve messed up.’ But there’s a core hope that someone’s going to save the day. And it’s up to the young people to save it as well.”
AR: “Musically, it’s inspired a little bit by Peter Gabriel, Thomas Dolby, and that kind of stuff. There’s even a nod, in the fact it’s called ‘Big Climb,’ to Gabriel with ‘Big Time.’ It’s like we’re answering the message of ‘Big Time’: how that generation has totally screwed everything up.”

It Was a Monstering
AR: “I like what we’ve managed to get in the end with this; it’s important to the record. We kept going back to it, because we were really into the middle eight—it’s one of our finest, and we kept on wanting that not to be left off the record. We were just a bit worried about connotations of sounding like this or that, the usual stuff. We work at everything far too much in terms of how the music is perceived. People just want to hear what we like and what we like doing. We need to remember to not care as much.”
JH: “Across the record there’s quite a few references to urban myths, bogeymen. It’s painting myself as this outsider, like a monster. There’s loads of references to me being a vampire or an old Universal villain, Frankenstein or whatever. And then it descends into a big list of awful urban myths. Then there’s some bicameral mind stuff about how I want them to be able to inhabit my brain. It’s not very clear-cut, that one; it’s more about painting a feeling, really.”

Planets
JH: “I think I heard an advert or something that was like this really slow triplet-y synth thing. I really liked the feel of it. So I tried to recreate it and it went wrong, as it always does. But it was an unusual feel for us musically—this really slow 6/8 feel. And then it goes double-speed for the chorus. It’s just a really fun feel to play with. It’s about crying out for acceptance, really. A lot of [the songs] are like that, but there’s a lot more humor in play here. The lyrics are really ridiculous. They were some of the last ones I did, and I realized that a lot of the album was quite somber and I should throw all of my fun into this last song, so that there is that color on this record.”

Moonlight
AR: “My wife gave birth in the middle of the night and I was up all night while she was going through this thing. It was just a really bizarre feeling for our first child, and I just wanted to capture that with music. There’s a bit of rehashed harmonies from Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata, and that’s why I named it, as a demo, ‘Moonlight.’”
JH: “Lyrically it’s about feeling a bit stuck in life and not making any progress. But, again, there’s lots of hope in there and lots of references to Britain in the early ’90s, things I remember from my childhood. Not even specifics, but just the feeling of smoking in pubs and the old pound coins…and I don't even know why I’m saying that, because it isn’t even in the lyrics, but this is what it makes me feel like when I sing that song. There’s something about never moving on from the village in the ’90s, which isn’t my story at all. It’s a bit like a prayer, that song.”

Arch Enemy
JH: “I was reading about fatbergs, and something about them struck me as incredibly potent as a metaphor for greed and waste. We’ve thrown away so much fat that it’s blocked up the sewerage [system]. And this idea arose of a person applying the status of god to the fatberg and saying, ‘Just cover all of us in your fat grossness, because it’s what we deserve for creating you in the first place.’ And at the same time knowing that I had a huge role to play in it myself and I don’t really do enough to counter my own stuff. Musically, I was inspired by the Saint Etienne cover of ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart,’ this ’90s reggae-ish loop that I fell in love with. The harmony was essentially based on Allegri’s ‘Miserere,’ a really famous thing that Mozart heard [at the Sistine Chapel] when he was a kid and copied down. It’s a really holy Catholic piece of music and I’ve always loved the harmony. So, I just put it over this beat. So, there’s this holy undertone to this song about this fatberg deity. And it’s been recontextualized into this grotesque new god for the 21st century. And then Alex did an obscene guitar solo over the end of it and called it a day.”

Lord of the Trapdoor
AR: “I was listening to [John Coltrane’s] ‘Giant Steps’ and just enjoying how it’s got this really strong melody, and then the chords are moving key every chord. I wanted to write something that had a bit more jazz influence on it. I was also trying to write something that was much more noisy than we’ve done before, more Sonic Youth, some chaos in there. So I manipulated John’s voice and scrambled him up. I wanted it to feel really manic and really chaotic—something that, live, would be really rowdy and really intense.”
JH: “It’s about internet trolls. Those are the baddies of our time. I’m just fascinated as to why people get into those headspaces. And the elements of myself that are reflected in that and how easy it is to fall into that, a human trap you fall into—why discourse has become like this. There’s a really weird little sidestep at the end where I say ‘Turning sunlight into flesh,’ which is me trying to boil down the entirety of the human story into one line—the process of energy coming from the sun and making life—but it sounds like nonsense taken out of context. I wanted that somewhere on the record, so it appears as almost another voice in your head. ‘What the hell is that?’ Then the song crashes back in and ruins that little moment of enlightenment that you might have had.”

Black Hyena
JH: “This is the last lyric that I did. I had already written a demo called ‘Re-Animator’ at the start of the process, but that song didn’t work out for whatever reason. But I loved the title. I liked the fact that there were two ways of being reanimated. You could come back as something dark, as a zombie, or you could be reborn. So I wrote these lyrics about someone tinkering with animals, literally bringing them back—a Frankenstein-type character, messing with nature, which comes up a hell of a lot on the record. It’s a warning about fucking around with nature too much, I guess. The demo was just drums and the bass and that vocal at the top. And I really wanted it to stay like that. Then eventually we were like, ‘Well, we could do this, but we won’t really be a band if we do.’”

In Birdsong
JH: “I wrote this as a more traditionally orchestral thing, with all these lyrics about becoming conscious and the beginning of time, and staring into your own soul, really deep shit. It was an overblown, quite filmic, soundtrack-y type thing. Then Alex took it away and just completely reanimated it with his modular synth—influenced by Floating Points and all his weird shit he listens to—with this detached level to it, of feeling like you were out of time, in the future, in the past, which was really, really great. When it came to mixing it, I said to John [Congleton, producer], ‘Can you make it sound like a mastering error has occurred, like we’ve actually accidentally fucked this song?’ Really early on in the process, me and Alex talked about making a record that sounded like it was too big to be recorded, like it was the sound of planets hitting each other. I guess that’s the closest we got to it, that little bit of distortion in the end.”

The Actor
JH: “This had quite a traditional beginning: ‘Let’s write a song, with chords, on a guitar, then sing over it’—which isn’t what we ever do. So we did it and felt really good about it. But then we started to worry that it was maybe too normal. So we started to make it much weirder and much more of a swimmy, trippy kind of song. The lyrics were basically about being a bit disconnected; it was very much an OK Computer-type song about finding somebody who looks exactly the same as you and giving over your life to them so you can just disappear, give up all your responsibilities. The vocal is set quite back and obscured so it’s got a ‘I’m not here’ feel.”
AR: “I get similar feelings from Talking Heads, like ‘there’s a party going on,’ but there’s this sad guy on top, almost disconnected from the world. It’s like being in an airport or something: you have no sense of time. We were trying to go for that feeling on every record, that jet-laggy ‘I feel disconnected, I’m in the wrong time of the day’ feel, but it has been most successful, I think, on this record.”

Violent Sun
JH: “I wanted to write a song that gave you that feeling of time running out, and that desperate feeling when you’re in the club and you’re really excited but you know the night is coming to an end and the DJ is only going to play one more song. You only have the time of that song to do whatever you came here to do: to hold on to that feeling or tell someone you love them, or whatever it is. The lyrics flowed out of me quickly, getting a feeling down rather than ‘I must tell this very elaborate story about a fatberg and make sure everyone understands it, while keeping it pop.’ This is: ‘They’re all against us, we’re standing together and I’ve only got this moment to tell you that something is coming and I want to be here with you when it does come.’ We were absolutely adamant that we shouldn't have a letup in it, that the middle eight should go harder. Because we always have respite and we always have concern for the listener, we’re always like, ‘Oh, you can’t have that, you’ve got to keep it in moderation.’ No, this is just a song that starts and keeps going—like other bands do and people enjoy. There’s this whole feeling of hitting the ground running: I start with the word ‘and’ like the song has already been going.”

SONG
Lost Powers
1
3:41
 
Big Climb
2
3:54
 
It Was a Monstering
3
4:34
 
Planets
4
3:57
 
Moonlight
5
3:40
 
Arch Enemy
6
3:51
 
Lord of the Trapdoor
7
4:26
 
Black Hyena
8
3:58
 
In Birdsong
9
5:13
 
The Actor
10
4:04
 
Violent Sun
11
4:00
 

Music Videos

  • Big Climb
    Big Climb
    Everything Everything
  • Arch Enemy
    Arch Enemy
    Everything Everything
  • In Birdsong
    In Birdsong
    Everything Everything
  • Violent Sun
    Violent Sun
    Everything Everything
  • Planets
    Planets
    Everything Everything

More by Everything Everything

Featured On