• Everything Everything
  • Arc
  • Sony

WHEN we first saw the Manchester-based four-piece in Oxford we were quite frankly unsure what to make of them. There was an element of homage to our own Radiohead, along with twitchy alternative-pop leanings which were enough to earn them a Mercury nomination for their debut album, 2010’s Man Alive.

Now they are back with their long-awaited follow-up; which, judging by the victory of art pop kindred spirits alt-J, could be enough to win them this year’s crown.

Their second offering, Arc, is rooted in the same electro sensibilities as the debut but with a more complex math-rock structuring which again demonstrates an appreciation for another Oxford band — Foals. It’s also a bleaker less upbeat affair with a new pessimistic realism running through it. And it’s all the better for it.

Opening track Cough Cough, previously released as a single, is the standout track - an intricately-fashioned, hook-laden piece of indie-rock with a hip-hop flavour.

And while the rest of the album may be mixed, with lapses into self-conscious quirkiness and the jarring nature of Jonathan Higgs’s falsetto, it also sees them finding their feet with added confidence (something hinted at by the use of their pictures on the cover - as opposed to the anonymous debut, with its distorted animal image).

A welcome step up from the showy cleverness of the debut, it will inevitably be huge. It will now be interesting to see their Valentine’s Day show in Oxford, find out how the lads, who have now ditched the identical boilersuits, come across live. On the strength of the album, expect good things.