Review: Arcade Fire loses its streak with the underwhelming ‘Everything Now’
Arcade Fire is essentially classic rock. Only 13 years have passed since the release of the band’s first full-length album “Funeral,” but most of the band’s discography since has been canonized as essential listening. Arcade Fire has managed to create a style of art-rock that does not feel out of place in stadiums and headlining festival sets — similarly to bands like Radiohead —thanks to the band’s large lineup fronted by husband and wife Win Butler and Regine Chassagne. “Everything Now,” the band’s fifth studio album, is an attempt to continue the group’s well-established legacy. Most of it falls flat.
“Everything Now” is a concept album, and sees the band focus on consumer culture and the information age. In order to make that obvious, the band fed its fans information for this album through the satirical Everything Now Corp, a fake finance company they invented for the release. Arcade Fire is good at dedicating themselves to a concept, but a concept alone cannot carry this entire release.
The album starts off strong with a series of well-produced songs, all of which were released as singles before the album dropped. The energetic title track includes a breathy pan flute and a full choir, all backed by a lively, disco-influenced drumbeat. Butler sings over the lush production, reflecting on the overwhelming access to both culture and content. The song is followed by “Signs of Life,” an upbeat track about the search for meaning in a pleasure-driven society. The hand claps and driving bassline help to tune out its gloomy lyrical content.
“Creature Comfort” is a return to the band’s well-molded anthemic sound, and it’s one of the strongest tracks. The lyrics touch on self-hatred and suicide, but seek to reveal the things that make life worth living. “Born in a diamond mine,” the song states. “It’s all around you but you can’t see it.”
However, there are a handful of songs that are unlistenable for long-time fans. From the dub-influenced “Peter Pan,” to the horrible lyrics on “Chemistry” and “Put Your Money On Me,” some tracks feel particularly out of place and uninspired. Additionally, the song “Infinite Content” feels heavy-handed, and “Everything Now (Continued)” feels like it’s just there to remind you that you’re listening to a concept album. Most of this comes across as filler.
“Everything Now” is a very danceable record. But it feels less realized and less cohesive than anything else Arcade Fire has put out in the past. The closer Arcade Fire gets to dance-rock, the more they sacrifice substance and songwriting.This album ends up being a disappointment, especially considering the band’s capability to record masterpieces such as “Funeral” and “The Suburbs.” Most fans are better off returning to their earlier releases.