Single Review: Everything Everything – Kemosabe

By on Tuesday, 18th December 2012 at 12:00 pm

Everything Everything Kemosabe single cover2013 is shaping up to be a massive year not just for newer bands but also those that we have come to love on the strength of their debut albums. One such band is Everything Everything, who have already made available publicly their single ‘Cough Cough’, even though the actual release of the single doesn’t happen until the 14th of January. If they wanted to keep people’s anticipation up, they could have let this be the only thing from their new album ‘Arc’ to see the light of day until January. But no. They’re nice guys. They’d not do that to us. Instead, ladies and gentlemen, they’ve released both the audio and video for ‘Kemosabe’, and I will dissect for you now everything that is good – and indeed, amazing – about this new song.

For those of us who used to (and maybe still) watch ‘old’ television reruns, the word ‘Kemosabe’ has become synonymous with Tonto, the Native American sidekick and faithful friend of the Long Ranger. So initially, I’m thinking, okay, Everything Everything has written a song about the Lone Ranger. The Lone Ranger? What does that have to do with anything? However, as is the case with so many of the band’s songs, the lyrics are confusing and come at you like rapid fire, but with an oh so catchy rhythm. Going off of the combative nature of ‘Cough Cough’, I’d venture a guess that ‘Kemosabe’ is not trying to rekindle nostalgia for a beloved ’60s tv show but rather use the memory of this show and its relative innocence as stark contrast to the wars being waged in the 21st century.

The song begins with the words “four walls and a cauldron of Kalashnikovs” (assault rifles), and you’re eventually led to “the border” where the protagonist is struggling with an internal battle, until the sobering lines, “but does it feel like you’re already dead? / and do you feel like your brain stopped delivering? / yeah, break my finger, shoot out my black eyes / what does it matter if everyone dies?” This sounds like the thinking of someone who’s already been through a war and is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. I have the impression that people in the military have to undergo a certain level of brainwashing in order to truly believe in and carry out the missions they do. How else can you justify the killing of another human being?

The chorus in ‘Kemosabe’ sound happy but they’re far from it…right? Someone is calling his faithful friend and telling him he’s alone. But what has happened? Has he done what he thought was “right” and killed all of the enemy? The Lone Ranger’s memory gets called in a couple times, for a few errant “hi-o Silver, away!” moments, but I don’t think that’s what you’re supposed to be focusing on as the listener. Senseless killing and senseless death, two topics that are especially hard to swallow or even begin to talk about in wake of the Sandy Hook school massacre last week in Connecticut, aren’t exactly usual pop topics, yet the Manchester-based foursome are yet challenging convention. Even the video, which shows the band performing in a leafy forest, is kind of odd too: there’s one man doing physical stunts on the forest floor. Alone.

What has always impressed me about Everything Everything is how tight their songs sound; it’s like the four of them have become one body, and subconsciously each band member can react to and/or compensate for another. I didn’t think this was possible live, but I was proven wrong last year when they were forced to go acoustic. In ‘Kemosabe’, with all its background shouts, percussive elements and thudding bass, we’re being shown again how smooth a machine Everything Everything is. It honestly sounds like something from another world in its cleanness, and each time you listen, there is something else you discover that makes it all the more unique.

When a song follows you around – and I mean everywhere: the grocery store, the shower, even when you’re in bed, desperately trying to get some shut eye – and every time you think about it, you get a smile on your face, you know you have stumbled onto something good. I don’t expect ‘Arc’ to ape ‘Man Alive’ in any way, and of course I have no idea if they’ve gone and bettered the debut album. At the same time though, I’m not worried at all. These guys have got it in the bag. This single is for those who like to think…and for those who’d rather not think, it’s got a funky as hell rhythm that will remain an earworm for months to come.


‘Kemosabe’, the second single from Everything Everything’s forthcoming album ‘Arc’, will be released on the 14th of January 2013 on RCA Victor. A little confusingly, the release of ‘Arc’, the hotly anticipated follow-up to the 2010 Mercury Prize-nominated ‘Man Alive’, will be released on the same exact day. The band are on tour in the UK in February. Watch the video for and listen to the Com Truise remix of the single below.


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3 Responses

7:38 am
6th January 2015

Great arecilt, thank you again for writing.

[…] their back catalogue. It’s reasonable to expect the kind of enthusiastic reaction from singles ‘Kemosabe’ and ‘MY KZ UR BF’, the latter leading to a mass “whoa-oh-oh” singalong led by ringmaster […]

[…] lyrical delivery, proved irresistibly catchy to the audience. ‘Cough Cough’ and ‘Kemosabe’ from 2013’s ‘Arc’ were additional rhythmic standouts. ‘Distant Past’, […]

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