Everything Everything are in kind of an odd position; when the Manchester based four piece released their Mercury Prize nominated album Man Alive the musical landscape wasn't nearly as crowded as it is now, with bands like Post War Years, Alt-j and Django Django all occupying similar ground. Now, with Arc, Everything Everything stake their territory with an album that is more straight forward and accessible, but ultimately more gratifying.

Arc gets off to a blistering start with lead single 'Cough Cough', a rhythmic powerhouse littered with polyrhythms and frenetic synth arpreggios. But as the album progresses you start to get a sense of what Everything Everything are going for. Many of the jerky math elements that defined Man Alive have been toned down, with a series of focussed and energetic pop songs taking their place. Rest assured, EE have lost none of their lustre for syncopated rhythmic ideas or jarring harmonic shifts; the erratic guitar lines in 'Kemosabe' keep the tension high through the verse so when the chorus hits there's a feeling of genuine relief. And 'Feet for Hands' flies through its melodic ideas at such a speed it's almost exhausting.

This difference this time is that Man Alive sounded like exactly what it was, a group of talented and creative musicians throwing out as many ideas as possible in a bid to figure out who they were, which made for a fascinating listen, but occasionally felt like more a technical exercise than a cohesive record. With Arc, EE have taken the ideas that stuck and used them to craft a warmer and more human sounding album. They also seem to be more willing to embrace the sounds of the past. 'Duet's baroque-pop string accompaniment showcases the bands penchant for rich vocal harmony and 'Undrowned' has the feel of a track that began its life being played on a harpsichord.

Arc does something that's rare to hear in a sophomore effort, especially from an album of this nature, it take's the time to catch its breath. There is infinitely more space here than the angular, kitchen sink madness of Man Alive. 'Radiant' is happy to settle into a heavy groove with a festival friendly chorus riff and just luxuriate in it, and 'The House is Dust' and 'The Peaks' are some of the simplest tracks the band have ever put out, proving that they also have the capacity for gentle beauty.

It's fitting that the album should end with the utterly stunning 'Don't Try', which is packed to the rafters with interesting ideas. It's the victory lap of an album that, where Man Alive felt considered and self-conscious, Arc feels joyful and utterly effortless.