EVERYTHING NOW by Arcade Fire
Arcade Fire – EVERYTHING NOW
Genre: Alternative Dance, Synthpop
Favorite tracks: “Creature Comfort,” “Electric Blue,” “Put Your Money On Me,” “We Don’t Deserve Love”
On Arcade Fire’s fifth release, EVERYTHING NOW, the band continues to flirt with disco and new wave conventions with help from Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter, Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, and Pulp bassist Steve Mackey. But the fact that the band has strayed from their indie rock roots to try out a new sound is not enough of a reason to dislike the album. The synth-heavy, slow-burning disco track “Electric Blue” ranks among some of their best work to date. Where Arcade Fire really fails to experiment and ends up falling short is in the songwriting. This album was billed as a social critique on the constant demand for new media and how people are losing the ability to be content without being stimulated all the time. These are definitely some worthwhile topics to explore, but it seems like even the band wasn’t sold on exploring those themes completely. It’s the first time one of their releases has felt phoned-in, safe, and maybe even a little lazy.
The title track, an offbeat, anthemic song in the vein of “This Must Be the Place” by the Talking Heads (carried by a panflute, no less), is the only one that really goes in depth with the ideas that the band introduced. Past that, none of these songs are really connected thematically. This isn’t to say that every album needs to have an underlying concept to make it good, but something that Arcade Fire has been especially good at doing in the past is playing with standard conventions and expectations in an interesting way to suit the themes of their releases. EVERYTHING NOW feels a little less thought-out or intelligent in comparison.
“Creature Comfort” is probably the best song on the album, but it still features a few cringe-worthy lines (“God make me famous / If you can’t, just make it painless”). The forced “find strength in your differences” message, while certainly a worthwhile one, sounds like something you’d hear in a parody of an Arcade Fire song, not in a song from the actual band. “We Don’t Deserve Love,” however, is a throwback to “classic” Arcade Fire. It wouldn’t surprise me if I heard it was a scrapped song left off of FUNERAL. Other highlights include “Signs of Life,” a goofy, albeit catchy shout-out to ‘80s, SOME GIRLS-era Rolling Stones and “Infinite Content,” which is carried by a Ramones-inspired punk guitar riff. It’s just unfortunate that it’s followed by an annoying, not-so-subtle country rendition of the same song. The two weakest tracks on the album are “Chemistry” and “Peter Pan,” which are both unfiltered, somewhat generic love songs, something that the band has managed to avoid up until this point in their career.
EVERYTHING NOW comes across as formulaic and manufactured, which seems counterproductive to its own message. It’s not clear whether this is intentional or if it’s the result of a lack of self-awareness. Either way, the album lacks the depth and willingness to experiment that made the band great in the first place. It features some great #SummerJams, but there isn’t too much to grab onto thematically. It’s not necessarily that it’s a bad album on its own terms, it’s just that there’s an obvious dip in quality when compared to the rest of their discography. Arcade Fire has been one of my favorite bands since I was kid, so it pains me to say it, but…
Verdict: Do Not Recommend