Kings of the grandiose Arcade Fire return with their fifth studio album, four years after Reflektor. Produced by Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter, Steve Mackey from Pulp and Markus Dravs (Björk, Brian Eno and more) Everything Now sees the band take an excessive trip down Abba-esque walls of strings and piano chords, massive pop walls.
LP £19.49 88985447851
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CD £11.99 88985447852
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LP £21.49 88985447861
Limited edition LP on Columbia (Night Version) featuring alternative colour artwork.
CD £11.99 88985447862
Limited edition CD on Columbia (Night Version) featuring alternative colour artwork.
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Props to the Arcade Fire for getting out ahead of their audience and being the architects of their own backlash. The past few weeks we’ve seen their tremendous skills in shady e-marketing and sarcastic online bullshit at work, which is either a) ironic because this album is bemoaning those things or b) an ironic statement on those things that no one needed. Pick your poison. Personally, I don’t care anymore. Charlie Brooker is 2017’s George Orwell, blah blah; the Arcade Fire are ABBA farting out an ideological agenda.
Don’t ask Win and Regine to tackle a tricky subject, though; this has been a heavy-handed band since the day of inception. The difference was just that the baroque-Springsteening of Funeral was kids screaming sincere emotions; since then they’ve been jabbing at evangelical Christians, American suburbia and… what was Reflektor about? The state of James Murphy’s house? Slowly stripping the sweetness out of their music, they come to Everything Now, an even dancier and more compacted version of their last record with repetitive, looping, grooving snarls to go with their string swells and big band hype.
That title track is actually marvellous, though, belonging on a different record as it does: it sounds as wide-eyed and ready to step into the world as their earliest music, its lushness coupled with gang chants and panpipes and the general all-outery. It sounds like Win and co. are one with their audience again, the same kids at the same parties. From there, these songs grow up and grow a hard shell, the same bravado coming at a whole lot of distance, the band jabbing away like newspapers complaining about millennials. “Signs of Life” is basically the sound of Win, a big smirking, eye-rolling asshole, grassing up a generation underneath him. With some good brass bits.
Amidst the gooey synth patterns of “Creature Comfort”, the band go full Kozelek and sing about their first album while cheerfully retelling a fan’s attempted suicide. It’s uncomfortable to the max hearing them turn this story into their latest anthem, but the whole record feels like one massive misunderstanding between band and listener, so what can I say? The songs are still furiously, wonderfully loud in places, but their lyrics are dumb tracings of typically mindless critiques of modern culture and monetisation: the blaring dance-punk of “Infinite Content”, whose chorus goes “Infinite content, we’re infinitely content”, deserves its ironic status as album filler. It’s hard to believe a band who made a song as pure as “Crown of Love” could become this band with nothing to say but plenty to smirk, their own Criticism section on their Wikipedia page.
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