Arcade Fire

Everything Now

Written by: MIN on 23/08/2017 14:42:50

It’s been thirteen years since Arcade Fire released their critically acclaimed indie-rock classic “Funeral”, and although the band’s sound has progressively changed with each release, the overall outcome has always been good. No matter which release by the Canadian six-piece you prefer, these Quebecois have constantly managed to churn out some solid material that’s garnered much praise from critics and fans alike. Having been signed to Merge Records for a long time, the band’s “indie”-tag has always been kept intact despite various musical detours, but all of that changed a few months ago when Arcade Fire announced that they’d been signed to Columbia Records prior to the release of their fifth full-length album, “Everything Now”. On “Everything Now”, the band further expands its musical repertoire, but for the first time since “Funeral”, Arcade Fire sounds more stagnated and uninspired than curious and progressive.

Things are honestly off to a good start: not counting the short 46-second slowed-down version of the title-track, “Everything Now” gloriously opens up with the danceable, ABBA-esque (actual) title-track. Accompanied by cheerful piano chords and a surprisingly fitting flute, Win Butler once again criticizes modern society and its citizens. The song’s title says it all: we want everything now, and we’re never satisfied – more is more, less is less. No need to dive further into that, but let it be said that the song’s lyrics nicely make jabs and create metaphors without ever becoming pretentious or throwing the listener off. Here, Arcade Fire nicely balances excellent music and digestible yet decent lyricism – a feat that the band unfortunately can’t seem to master afterwards.

The Talking Heads-inspired funk and disco of “Signs of Life” is ruined by the song’s bland and repetitive lyrics, just like the intense energy of “Creature Comfort” burns out too quickly due to Butler’s awkward storytelling and delivery: ”Assisted suicide // She said she dreams about dying all the time // She told me she came so close // Filled up the bathtub and put on our first record”. Surely, the song’s topic – being insecure and wanting acceptance – is universal and always worth discussing, but do you have to shove extra syllables into the song’s last line when the words are so cringeworthy?

While the two aforementioned songs both contain redeeming qualities, “Peter Pan” and “Chemistry” are just flat-out bad. The drop in quality from the first to the fifth song is unbelievable, and when Butler sings ”Be my Wendy // I’ll be your Peter Pan // Come on baby // Take my hand” over a monotonous keyboard melody with more similarities to a bad 8-bit video game soundtrack than the Caribbean climate it’s supposed to recall, you’re pretty sure that Arcade Fire’s hit rock bottom – right? Well, think again, because coming up next is “Chemistry”. Equipped with an even worse lyric sheet and uninspired reggae- and new wave-rhythms, “Chemistry” cements the band’s grave musical and lyrical plunge – and this is before the (admittedly entertaining) “punk versus country”-two-piece “Infinte Content”/”Infinte_Content” and the songs’ repeated line ”Infinte content, infinite content, we’re infinitely content”.

Thankfully, the record’s second half isn’t equal to the awful first one. Although never managing to deliver sonic masterpieces like “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)” or anthems as massive and danceable as “Rebellion (Lies)”, Arcade Fire manages to be constantly decent through the last five songs of “Everything Now”, where either a groovy rhythm-section or a catchy chorus manages to catch the listener’s attention. In fact, the album’s last song (not counting the loop back to the slowed down version of the title-track) “We Don’t Deserve Love” almost makes you forget about the LP’s horrible middle-section. It’s a soft ballade with a remarkably upbeat yet sad chorus, which contains more emotions than 11 of the album’s 13 cuts combined:

Keep you waiting, hour after hour // Every night in your lonely tower // Looking down at all of the wreckage // When we met you never expected // And you said ‘maybe we don’t deserve love’

Despite all of their efforts, Régine Chassagne and Win Butler can’t help but ponder whether or not they’re doing alright – when is enough, enough? The artsy high school kids, who the past few years have risen confidently above their peers, are still insecure at their core. It’s the side of Arcade Fire they don’t show enough throughout their newest record. Granted, “We Don’t Deserve Love” isn’t the band’s best closer, but it’s a beacon of light on an otherwise average album, mainly by virtue of it’s honesty. Too much time is spent on preaching the obvious and trying out new ideas instead of just breaking it all down and deliver some good melodies and relatable lyrics. On “Everything Now”, Arcade Fire have reached a point where their songwriting can’t keep up with their ambition, and it’s resulted in the band’s weakest album yet. Arcade Fire demand everything now, yet they leave their listeners with so little.

5

Download: Everything Now, We Don’t Deserve Love
For The Fans Of: Broken Social Scene, Talking Heads, The National, ABBA
Listen: Facebook

Release date 28.07.17
Columbia Records


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