Arcade Fire

Everything Now

Columbia

Aug 04, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Find It At: AMAZON

For almost the last 15 years Arcade Fire have been the torchbearers for indie rock, a rollicking collective of multi-instrumentalists who created a love affair with the early blogs of the new millennium. They had the records to back it up; from 2004's larger-than-life debut Funeral to 2010's Grammy winning ode to the small town The Suburbs, Arcade Fire simply could not be touched critically. Even 2013's double disc dance floor opus Reflektor, while not as immediately grabbing, can be easily read as a slow-burner that acts as a major influence 10 years down the line (much like Kanye West's 808's and Heartbreak or Yeezus). Arcade Fire were growing and maturing into a band that could seemingly do no wrong.  However, much like 2017 in a nutshell, that went to hell pretty quickly.

Enough has already been written about the messy rollout for Everything Now, the band's fifth studio album and first for Columbia. The preemptive review on fake blog "Stereoyum," the heinous dress code for their secret show, the overpriced and overdone Everything Now Fidget Spinners, all were a part of a gross pursuit to show the music industry and fans what a crock social media vanity is. Perhaps they were a little too clever, as most of if not all of the shtick fell completely flat. Yes, album rollouts can be ridiculous and are ripe for mocking, but the irony is completely lost when the one's doing the mocking are actually trying to sell a record.

It seems Arcade Fire spent just as much time on the actual songs on the record as people have spent talking about them, seemingly none at all. Vapid, dry lyrics keep the listener disengaged throughout; never once reaching anywhere close to the heights we are used to as Arcade Fire fans. "Peter Pan," a wonked out dub mess asks a woman to "be my Wendy, I'll be your Peter Pan," a hollow if not creepy sentiment. "Creature Comfort" finds the band as millennial heroes, saving suicidal teens with their first record. These are nice sentiments, but the self-righteous back-patting loses any real meaning. Then there's "Chemistry," a song that should never have happened in any universe. Never have I felt more insulted as a listener than towards the end of the song, when the band breaks out into an "I Love Rock n' Roll" audience sing-a-long drum breakdown. For a band that wrote "Afterlife," it becomes fairly infuriating. 

This isn't to say there aren't good songs on the record, because there are if one sticks around.  The title track follows a disco bassline into the stratosphere, with the chorus leading the track from good to great. "Put Your Money on Me" contains the perfect balance of simplicity and sustainability, with chugging drums and a synth line that hovers over some of the most earnest lyrics on the record. Penultimate song "We Don't Deserve Love" sees Win Butler as something of a road-weary rambler, where a fuzzed out synthesizer keeps pace with Butler's soaring falsetto. These moments are few and far between, as Everything Now becomes lost in it's own message. 

Arcade Fire are a great band, spurning a generation of indie listeners and have influenced countless groups. Which is what makes listening to Everything Now that much more painful. This is the band as a shell of themselves, an uninspiring slog of half-baked ideas following a "trying-by-not-trying" attitude. The grandiose heights of Funeral seem light-years away. (www.everythingnow.com)

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