Arcade Fires 'Everything Now' Aggravates
    • FRIDAY, JULY 28, 2017

    • Posted by: Peter Hammel


    The Montreal based band are not-so-secretly decorated veterans of the indie-rock scene. Until now, all of Arcade Fire's LPs since their debut in 2004 were heavily praised for a tasteful blend of baroque pop and weighty, frequently emotional concepts. Along with their celebrated discography, the band's concerts are revered for tight performances, impressive visual content, and the type of show that "will change your life." On top of all of these accolades, Arcade Fire commandeered our sound and vision in 2011 when taking home the Grammy for album of the year for The Suburbs.

    When this type of success correlates with a band, after four consecutive home run releases, remaining consistent for a fifth album or even raising the bar is a statistical anomaly. Everything Now does what other Arcade Fire albums did by borrowing conceptual momentum and from previous work, but the musical execution needs to parallel the weight of such potential energy, especially for the lionized Arcade Fire.

    But AF know this. Their albums are all delicately and perfectly linked. AF's debut Funeral circled around band members' losses of close family members, and the 2007 Neon Bible explored a more global view of what they experienced in 2004. The Suburbs admitted the possibility of moving past the emotional tug of death, and Reflektor admitted the possibility of rebirth. Everything Now is an attempt to loop what seemed like AF's infinite consistency which may disappoint most.

    But, again, Arcade Fire should know this. They published a facetious premature evaluation of the album stating that I would mention it in my review (which, yes, I just did) plus their super fun "marketing campaign" paired with the album and its release (which, sure, I just kinda did). At this point, I'll keep the review musical, because I find the idea of this new Everything Now version of Arcade Fire to be aggravating. It comes off as a burdened musical sacrifice for okay comedy.

    Frequently, AF musically succeeds by rewarding listeners. This characteristic opens the album as the brief "Everything_Now (continued)" rolls into the title track. Clicking synthesizers and a dissonant conclusion provide an excellent instrumental preparation for a dance themed "Everything Now". "Signs of Life" is plain both conceptually and sonically as the narrative searches for true life in a world of sex. "Creature Comfort" calls upon death and suicide, reaching back to Funeral and its dangerous consequence for listeners ("Assisted suicide / She dreams about dying all the time / She told me she came so close / Filled up the bathtub and put on our first record"). The track's monotone vocals match its lyrical directness.

    "Chemistry" makes any AF fan facepalm. Its lyrical melody copies "Creature Comfort", and instrumentally the track suffers from simple off beat saxophones and poorly aged guitar and bass riffs doubled during a painful chorus. I actually enjoyed the succinct musical movements of both "Infinite Content" and "Infinite_Content", but their brusque lyrical content leaves me not content. "Electric Blue" is my favorite individual track of the album in a possible tribute to David Bowie, but it drags in the context of the album. Penultimate "We Don't Deserve Love" sneaks in as the album's second best with a lovely arrangement of wincing synths that push and pull the chords' progression. The song's cute chorus featuring the whole band elbows Win Butler's verses but leaves room for him to howl at the end.

    As the album closes with "Everything Now (Continued)" it preps itself to loop back to the opener. Instead, though Arcade Fire likely resent this type of critique, I'd prefer the album closer to loop to the full LP debut of the band, straight to the relatable "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)", composed at Alewife Station in Cambridge, MA, where I spent my adolescence commuting but more likely linking music to the depths of life.
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