Everything Everything’s Cough Cough turned up on my Shazam app and I thought it was a mistake. Surely, there are better ways to introduce yourself to the music-buying populace then with an identical-double-barreled band name and identical-double-barreled song name. But then, on hearing ‘Cough Cough’, it’s obvious that nothing is too ordinary about Everything Everything. In much the same way as Toro Y Moi’s ‘So Many Details’ was an eerily good description of what that intricate, future-leaning track had on offer, the moniker Everything Everything seems to suit this Manchester four-piece to a tee. More to the point, the staccato, arrested excellence of the first single from their forthcoming sophomore effort ‘Arc’ is a brilliant rendition of what ‘Cough Cough’ should sound like. And I know. I spent the day in hospital breathing into a tube in the same sort of rapid, energetic way this track pans out, trying desperately to get to the bottom of my own, niggling, persistent cough cough.
I am incredibly late to the Everything Everything party, it seems. Kicking around since late 2007, the release of their debut ‘Man Alive’ was apparently a big enough event in the UK to secure the record a #17 chart spot and garner them both BBC Sound Of  and Mercury Prize  nominations. Nonetheless, it took until the hyperventilating pastiche of military drumming, Metronomy-style synths and bold lyrical statements (‘I’m happening now’) to filter through to anywhere in the vicinity of this keyboard. Part of that, I’d suggest, has to do with right place right time. As Alt-J, Django Django (double name conspiracy?) and scores of other UK acts remind us that the Brits do quirky rock best, throwing up some of the year’s best music in uncomfortably awkward time signatures and vocal flourishes, weird is increasingly becoming mainstream. The trick is to do offbeat in a way that makes it still borderline palatable for the masses. With ‘Cough Cough’, unfortunate nomenclature aside, Everything Everything have achieved that.
The chorus, I pretty much hate. I can’t really recall a song recently where I’ve so despised the very part that you’re supposed to get hooked on the most but with this one, it’s clear. The notion of founding a song in blurry concepts of violence and protest, filling your with images of riots and street clashes and establishing such a wonderfully skittering pace throughout the whole thing only to go and shoot yourself in the foot by slowing proceedings down to half-pace on the chorus makes no sense to me. The bridge is fantastic – the way each line ends with terminal, low-gear harmonies – and thankfully long and repeated. Although a change of pace might be necessary to maintain interest, the piece is robbed of its finality and power by that inexplicably ponderous chorus. If you can listen past that decidedly , what lies here is some indication of what quirk-rock done right sounds like. And it’s eminently more actual fun than a full lung function test.
Everything Everything – Cough Cough