Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Everything Everything fight entropy and question progress on resurgent seventh Mountainhead


Release date: 01 March 2024
EE Mountainhead cover
28 February 2024, 16:00 Written by Simon Heavisides

Back in January Everything Everything frontman Jonathan Higgs gave a fascinating interview.

Unusually he openly acknowledged the challenge of avoiding the creeping inevitability of dilution of artistic purpose and the commonplace slide in quality that gradually envelopes most bands as they move beyond that vital initial spark of inspiration, if indeed they ever had it.

He also reminded us that incredibly they’ve been fighting the good fight for seventeen years. As excellent as their first two albums were, it wasn't until LP number three that they turned in their stone-cold classic, Get to Heaven, but then its three follow-ups were no weak relations either.

Throughout those six albums Everything Everything have convincingly established themselves as one of the rare bands prepared to get their hands dirty articulating the particular horror of the postmodern age, while simultaneously standing back in awe of the beauty and the possibility that, even now, exists. Their humour is key but sometimes allows a cartoonish portrayal, partly of their own making, to distract from the impressive body of work they’ve left strewn over the last 17 years, leaving them as perennial underdogs, possibly a role they relish.

So what to make of Mountainhead?

Well, back in that interview the inspiration was made clear, Higgs is unsurprisingly keen to probe the febrile place we’ve arrived at in world history. Questioning the inequality of the age but, having twice digested the late Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism, approaching the future with enough optimism to at least partially counter the creeping fear. Are we on the verge of a change for the better or a slide into something worse?

The jury is out, but don’t worry Mountainhead backs up Higgs’ desire to avoid polemic and, perhaps more importantly, delivers on his promise of enforcing the band’s “all bangers policy”. When all is said and done, if everything’s going to shit bangers are what we need.

Mountainhead continues the slide away from guitar towards more synthetic textures but crucially without sacrificing the band’s essential humanity. Higgs is at the centre of the maelstrom, playing the role of an embattled everyman, his vocals channelling disbelief and disgust at the arbitrary cruelty and absurd indifference of a system stacked against him. As hard as he struggles the more ensnared he becomes.

Still, there’s a lightness of touch to intense tracks like opener “Wild Guess,” elastic bass propelling an elegiac rush of sound - immediately impressive and it wasn’t even a single. Not for the first time on Mountainhead Higgs cuts a lonely figure amongst the unforgiving tide of modern life.

But this is Everything Everything and their own forward motion rarely lets up. In today's chart-world for them a conventional ‘hit’ single seems out of reach, nevertheless the album’s three singles once again deftly balance commerciality and profundity in a way few bands can. “Cold Reactor” is key, setting out ‘the concept’ amid a dreamily-driving soundscape, its protagonist barely hanging on by their fingertips in a near-future (or present?) where humanity is traded for apparent progress.

The evidence stacking up over these 14 songs persuasively suggests Everything Everything are still able to locate the questing intensity that brought them into being, but have learned to ease back on the freneticism to allow additional breathing space within their creations. Certainly as the stark and troubled rumination on trauma “The Witness” reaches its ambient coda, their journey feels like it won’t be leading to a place of defeated nostalgia anytime soon.

Where does Mountainhead stand in their canon? Only prolonged exposure will tell, but one thing is beyond doubt; it’s the best concept album you will hear all year about a subjugated society literally digging a hole that takes them further away from those at the top of the heap.

Share article

Get the Best Fit take on the week in music direct to your inbox every Friday

Read next