The following observation of rising indie rock band Everything but the Everything’s distribution methods may hold the key to understanding the rest of the group’s quirky, semi-eccentric tendencies. For instance, in the wake of Covid-19 shaking up traditional industry standards, the band has decided to release all of its recent singles directly to the fanbase by way of Spotify, in effect challenging the preexisting status quo given the band’s recent splashes across major news sites and garnering mounting publicity all by word-of-mouth and their own qualitative abilities.
This only makes the experience of listening to Everything but the Everything’s musical playlists of their work all the more satisfying. One has the distinct sense you are hearing everything from the horse’s mouth, exactly as the band intended. This adds an extra layer of authenticity to the already stripped-down, raw and acoustic feelings each song manicures, everything coming across as technically polished but the music itself wild and far-ranging – nearly tuneless, as a matter-of-fact.
The title of the band is indicative of their approach to music-making. The term ‘bait-and-switch’ would be an understatement when applied to their songwriting abilities. The band seems obsessed with the element of surprise, yet maintains a cohesive rhythm through even their most chameleonic tracks. Prime examples of this are songs such as ‘This Cold Sea’ which contains distinct inklings of Reagan-era British Invasion. Then take, for instance, the complete turnaround with the grimly relevant track ‘This Cage’ – sporting a far more alternative sound consistent with modern-era bands in the pre-Y2K phase.
We’re talking the school of a one Matchbox Twenty, or Staind, or The Calling. Adding to that is the overtly sardonic lyricism, lamenting the current state-of-affairs both within the protagonist’s own soul and the world around him. Such observational satire isn’t something relevant to 80s music, arguably serving an escapist cause courtesy of the looming threat of the Soviet empire. Now, if anything, that process has reversed – music pulling back the curtain on perceived media bias and revealing what the artists say we don’t see. Hence the name, Everything but the Everything…
What the band doesn’t have in refinement it more than makes up for in terms of sonic spectacle. Take, for instance, the clashing musical contrasts on the group’s standout single ‘Jump’ featuring alternative indie singer Sophia Prise. Aside from Prise’s dissonant, somewhat echo-chambered vocalizations about a relationship gone to hell, the entire song in theory shouldn’t work. On the one hand, you have a slightly off-kilter melody being banged out on the higher keys of a grand piano, on the other a rock guitar seemingly disinterested in any sort of melodious harmony roaring into an overexposed, practically faltering microphone from the other headphone. Yet its the timing and precision of both instruments’ wild riffs that in their combination creates a wailing-like lilt, driving the intellectual freight train straight into the listener’s heart. It’s that magical moment when things might literally not make sense, but you understand.
In short, Everything but the Everything’s craft is in their having no distinctive craft. It’s about their being the antithesis of everything one expects them to be. That’s to be applauded.