irst breaking through at the dawn of the 2010s, Manchester-formed art-rock outfit Everything Everything have always centred a kind of poptimism that set them apart from the rest of their mathy counterparts. While the rest of the pack busied themselves with sweat-drenched house parties and signature-shifting guitars, this four-piece felt more indebted to US new wave bands like Devo – early on they swapped jeans for matching boiler suits – and incorporated a dizzying range of reference points.
Their breakthrough 2009 single MY KZ UR BF was frontman Jonathan Higgs’ answer to an old-timey R’n’B song shot through a strange, syncopated lens and overlooked by the impending apocalypse. That eclectic approach has endured over a decade later. Their upcoming sixth album Raw Data Feel – out on May 22 – was partially written by an AI robot, which the band fed excerpts of Chinese philosophy, the old English epic poem Beowulf and comments from the controversial anonymous image-board site 4Chan.
If some of this all sounds a bit nerdy, Everything Everything are also the opposite of impenetrable; though their musings on technology and creeping unrest often feel strange and erratic, gigantic stadium-ready choruses have a habit of bursting out of their giddying ether.
Plenty of these anthems filled the cavernous core of London’s Roundhouse. During the stuttering Kemosabe, Higgs held his microphone out for the audience, who dutifully chimed in with perfectly-timed call-and-responses. Taking on accidental resonance thanks to the last two years, the percussive hacks and splutters of Cough Cough were just as infectious. Keeping stage patter to a minimum, Higgs occasionally exclaimed greetings between songs, his focus mostly on the rest of his white-clad bandmates. Collectively they resembled a well-dressed bowls team.
Occasionally momentum lulled; the crisp hi-hats of the house-inflected Teletype slightly bogged down, and the closing moments of Warm Healer burbling gently away into a muddy slurp. Fan favourites MY KZ UR BF and Regret were conspicuously absent, and though unreleased cuts Jennifer and Pizza Boy were greeted warmly – the room clapping along to the latter’s snappy beat – the middle portion of the show was largely occupied by sprawling, pastoral epics in the vein of In Birdsong. With attention on the intricacies at hand, it had a tendency to feel slightly detached.
Soon enough the pace picked back up for a raging rendition of Spring / Sun / Winter / Dread and the Roundhouse responded with a swirling moshpit, Higgs back up front and overseeing the chaos. Beer bottle in hand, bassist Jeremy Pritchard took a moment to take the scene in shortly before launching into a joyful encore, and surrounded by bright neon, Distant Past and the brilliantly eccentric No Reptiles perfectly captured the weird, wonderful euphoria that Everything Everything bottle so effortlessly