Everything, Now! Spatially Severed

[MFT; 2008]

Styles: psychedelic pop
Others: The Flaming Lips, of Montreal

Everything, Now! have very proggy tendencies at heart. A lot of the familiar tropes are here — most noticeable are surreal lyrics, bizarre, sprawling concepts, and that, according to the press release, Spatially Severed is the first chapter in a trilogy. The album features a collection of 16 brief pop vignettes. In fact, only one track extends beyond the 3:30 mark, and only by six seconds. This is both refreshing in its concision and frustrating in that it leaves us with several songs that feel incomplete.

Spatially Severed focuses on man’s relationship with the universe. The band approaches this through a series of bizarre allegorical tales and a few straightforward songs (see: “Hello God”). A lot of it is very tongue-in-cheek, and indeed humor is often a very effective way to address serious topics. “Alice of Dixie Cup,” for example, is about a woman who accidentally drinks the remains of her daughter from, yes, a Dixie cup. Placing an obtuse, nonsensical song like this immediately before the very direct “Hello God” takes a lot of gravitas away from the latter. Sure, E,N! utilizes the time-tested approach of combining of serious lyrics with upbeat music, but it’s hard to focus on a weighty topic immediately after the previous song's cartoonish recorded laughter.

The music here ranges from straightforward psychedelic pop (“Burden Time,” “Labyrinth”) to lonesome almost-country (“Brother of the Prodigal Son”). Each song is enjoyable, and none of them overstay their welcome. As noted earlier, though, several of the songs could have benefited from a little bit of expansion. Jon Rogers’ voice is a lot more memorable than the instrumental contributions to the record, but it’s not always for the best. He often sounds like a hybrid of Soft Bulletin-era Wayne Coyne, Jack White, and Axl Rose in his prime — not the most desirable combination.

Nothing is ostensibly annoying or wrong with Spatially Severed, and that’s why critiquing it has been rather frustrating. There are memorable melodies and enjoyable songs, but it feels ephemeral, not all that original, and just “nice.” For all the surreal, extraterrestrial goings-on on the record, Everything, Now! adhere to pretty basic arrangements and song structures, not truly letting themselves loose. I’m hoping that part two in their trilogy will be more adventurous.

1. Burden Time
2. The Shelter
3. Labyrinth
4. Brother Of The Prodigal Son
5. The Hairy Ears Of Soul Captain Serpentine
6. Venus Tossed The Dice
7. Alice Of Dixie Cup
8. Hello God
9. Savior Of Sector Ten
10. Lifting Waits
11. Save A Life With Diet Chocolate Sprite
12. People
13. Bubble By
14. Self-Proclaimed Prince Of The Hamlet
15. Oh Yeah
16. In Heaven Smoking Trees

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