When Everyone Everywhere emerged from the Philly emo / punk scene in 2010, it was concerned more with the smaller things. Its self-titled debut featured a “Tiny” suite (“Tiny Planet,” “Tiny Town,” etc.), where songs addressed topics like lovelorn ennui and whose apartment they were next crashing at. Compare those themes to the practically philosophical declaration that concludes its current album – also self-titled – in the song “Wild Life”: “I wanna go, I wanna know and understand the basic concept of human completeness.”
That’s not to say these four guys have all of a sudden gone bookish (although they do somehow make a catchy refrain out of “bicameral progress, dichotomous” and other words I still need to look up). But there is an obvious and exciting degree of growth, both sonic and lyrical, in their latest offering. With speedy, askew guitar lines reminiscent of The Dismemberment Plan, Everyone Everywhere (2012) is a bright and layered record that adds instrumental flourishes and enriched production to the standard guitar-bass-drums grind. Warm counterpoint vocals and harmonies ring across “The Future,” while the chugging, Weakerthans-ish single “Queen Mary II” rattles with nervous auxiliary rhythms, then bursts into a sunny and hopeful saxophone solo.
The lyrics of the latter chronicle the isolation of someone adrift at sea, and reflective thoughts such as this recur throughout the album; the confoundingly catchy “Big Hat,” for instance, tracks the regret and resignation of a character who doesn’t act on their passions. Beginning with the scene-setting line “Time slips by, I’m 38 years old / I’m past my prime, I guess that’s fine,” we revisit them again at age 45 (“I’m tired”), age 56 (“I can’t sleep”) and age 71 (“I’m dead”).
Which, written out like that, looks like a massive downer, a lot to take in – and with this record short on the fist-pumping group sing-a-longs like “Tiny Boat” from their last album, you’d think it might be just that. But when the last refrain rings out, you’ll want to return. On their latest, Everyone Everywhere presents you with an uncomfortable, occasionally distressing snapshot of young men stumbling towards adulthood, and all the awkward thoughts and uncertainties that go with it – and makes it a lively, honest and utterly welcoming portrait.
Everyone Everywhere (2012) is the featured album in this edition of Unlocked; hear the spotlighted single “Queen Mary II” in yesterday’s post, and check back later in the week for interviews, video and more. The album will be available for digital download from Bandcamp tomorrow, but you can hear the entire thing (and watch the band lounging to it) in the video below: