Review: Arcade Fire – Everything Now

Arcade Fire, master of the modern concept album, have returned with their first record in four years and in typically untypical fashion, the album’s lead singles and promotion promised a new direction sonically for the band. Marketed using the bizarre methods of fabricating fake reviews, band news and even whole companies, all of which were basic and disappointing satire from such a bold and seemingly intelligent band, the album has been the subject of much discussion. This discussion was furthered fuelled by the lead singles which, in coincidental unison with The Killers, highlighted a new groove and disco based sound for the band commonly associated with existential indie guitar rock. 
The album begins in strong but unusual fashion with a continuation of ‘Everything Now’ a record that follows its own continuation. The titular track however is an optimistic, bounce-infused look to space complete with the band’s trademark nostalgia. 
The darker following track, ‘Signs of Life’ promises an atmospheric yet still funk-heavy tone elaborated upon in tracks such as ‘Electric Blue’ and ‘Good God Damn.’ These tracks whilst certainly well-realised are disappointing and add nothing of great value to the album, each of them serving only to slow down the album and they all isolate themselves from the catchier nature of the overall album which isn’t necessarily an issue however the boredom that these tracks inspire mean that, aside from ‘Signs of Life’ these songs would be better used as b-sides or on a darker album the band may go on to produce. 
These two tracks are also responsible for the album’s biggest flaw: that from track 7, ‘Infinite Content’ to track 10, ‘Put Your Money on Me’, the album is incessantly uninspired and dull. The album’s satire, which is more minimal than other critics may suggest, is present deeply on these tracks whose lyrics of technology and voids filled by visual information reeks of Baby-Boomer’s ‘criticisms’ of modern technology in that they seem baseless and in fact say very little about the many problems that our advance in modern technology has caused. Also within this drought of entertainment is ‘infinite_content’ which is an acoustic version of the album’s most painfully cringeworthy track ‘Infinite Content’ whose lyrics say little of the target of its critique. Despite the fact that the Abba comparisons are boring and somewhat exaggerated the groove-based ‘Put Your Money on Me’ is the catchy and enjoyable homage to the Swedish four piece that finally lifts us from the album’s driest patch.
However, of course, the influences are obvious and yet they pale in comparison to the returning motifs of the band themselves. Lyrics of suburban boredom and desperate pleas for escapism are old-hat to the Butlers at this point and yet the lyrics here are as beautiful and reflective as ever blending the surreal and the crushingly benign in a way that captures great longing. Other lyrics this time around however often concern self-esteem or a lack thereof, this is most obvious and notable in the fourth, and best, track of the album ‘Creature Comforts’ in which the wonderful line ‘stand in the mirror and wait for the feedback’ is sung many times or is seen I n the quiet, conclusive ballad of the album ‘We Don’t Deserve Love’ in which the band beg the listener to tell your boyfriend you love his song’. Both of these tracks are beautiful, powerhouse hits of inner turmoil and pain rendered through the disco style of the entire album. However, in a surprising turn, many of the band’s other lyrics here are cloying and obvious such as the sickly pining of ‘Peter Pan’ or the boredom inspiring mess that is ‘Electric Blue’. These lyrics are scattered sparingly across the record and so fail to drag down the overall impressive prose here but the lyrics are still unappealing and a symptom of the album’s overall issues. 
As mentioned above, the record winds down with the slow, emotive ‘We Don’t Deserve Love’ which is a long, winding six and a half minute confession of confusion and self-destructing emotions and relationships. This is the album’s most complex track complete with cryptic lyrics and a beat that lacks the pop-sensibilities of the band’s earlier work on this album. Following this is the closing track of the album which is another continuation of ‘Everything Now’ and the shorter track completes the melancholic tone set by the prior track and ends the record in a way that is both emotionally sound and links the beginning and end of the album creating an illusion that the album lives in a continuous loop. 
Overall the band’s foray into disco works sporadically and enhances the album only on the opening, anthemic such as ‘Chemistry’ and the titular track itself. The tracks composition and lyrical accompaniment are also the weakest Arcade Fire have ever been, beginning with a slew of enjoyable yet forgettable hits before slowly fading into a chain of mediocrity and then concluding by coming down into beautiful yet underdeveloped hit of ‘We Don’t Deserve Love’. Despite flourishes of brilliance, mainly ‘Creature Comforts’ this is a weak, unbalanced album chained to a sound that inhibits Arcade Fire and clearly lead to the birth of some of the most uninteresting and basic tracks in their career. 

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