Arcade Fire, Everything Now | Album Review
Arguably, Canadian alt-rock darlings Arcade Fire deliver their weakest album to date with ‘Everything Now.’ Regardless, it has still has its moments.
For most indie/alternative rock fans and music critics, a new Arcade Fire album is an event. The Canadian-based collective rarely do wrong – at least that’s the perception. For the most part, Arcade Fire puts together solid albums. Still, every artist or band misses or at least downgrades occasionally, right? In the case of the Grammy-winners who rocked The Suburbs, Everything Now gets the distinction of being their weakest effort to date. Even so, Everything Now is by no means bad. There is some filler though – some moments that don’t feel pristine.
“Everything_Now (continued)” initiates the journey, setting the tone for what to come. Naturally, that’s “Everything Now,” the first single and arguably the best song from the album of the same title. On dance-rock joint, Win Butler delivers a respectable, tasteful vocal performance, intact with its fair share of playful moments. The production work is superb, incorporating rhythmic guitars which help retain an acoustic, folksy vibe that contrasts the disco sensibilities. The M.O. Is literally everything now. Throughout the song, the phrase means different things, both good or bad.
“Signs of Life,” another pre-release single follows. Not quite as glorious or transcendent as “Everything Now,” “Signs of Life” still has its virtues. It’s as groovy as the two preceding singles. Additionally, the production work is top-notch – bass, strings, horns, and so on. A fun record, lyrically, Butler and company encompasses pleasure and excess. The finger is being pointed to the youth for wasting precious time with temporary pleasures. The chorus phrases it best:
“Looking for signs of life / Looking for signs every night / But there’s no signs of life / So we do it again.”
“Creature Comfort,” the second single from Everything Now, outpaces “Signs of Life,” more in line with the exceptionalness of the title track. The record opens in electrifying fashion, with synths leading the charge. Arcade Fire remain in dance-rock mode, but also incorporate some gritty guitar in the mix, not to mention the hard-hitting groove. The themes of “Creature Comfort prove darker than its exuberant sound, encompassing suicide and how screwed up society is. “Creature Comfort” is easily in contention for the crème de la crème of Everything Now.
The same can’t be said of “Peter Pan,” or the next group of songs in general. The first things that’s surprising about “Peter Pan” are the reggae/tropical cues. No, this isn’t a full-fledged reggae joint, but the sound is unexpected. Is it complete misfire? No, but definitely a departure of sorts. Predictably, “Peter Pan” is about Peter Pan.
“Be my Wendy, I’ll be your Peter Pan / Come on baby, take my hand / We can walk if we don’t feel like flying / We can live, I don’t feel like dying / Be my Wendy, I’ll be your Peter Pan…”
Follow up “Chemistry” gives Arcade Fire another groovy song that sounds distinct of those preceding it. While there’s some charm here, there’s also a lack of depth. Butler and company aren’t expected to be cerebral song in and song out, but “Chemistry” may be too simple. The record is certainly fueled by repetition.”
Before Regine Chassagne takes the reins on “Electric Blue,” The band drops two distinct interludes. The first, “Infinite Content” is quick, characterized by its driving sound. The follow up, “Infinite_Content” is more relaxed in pace, giving off chill vibes. What’s the point? Ultimately, Arcade Fire are thinking deeper than what the simplistic, repetitive lyrics suggest. The key line:
“All your money is already spent on it / All your money is already spent / Infinite content.”
Like the three singles that preceded it, “Electric Blue” grooves hard. 70s disco, coupled with a rich palette of synth sounds fuel the fire. If nothing more, production continues to be a selling point. Another selling point, at least to some extent, are the vocals. With Chassagne taking over fronting duties, her tone is somewhat polarizing – some’ll love it, others won’t. Given the style of the song and the album as a whole, her confident vocals fit the bill. All in all, “Electric Blue” is one of the better songs contextually, but not in the same league as “Everything Now” or “Creature Comfort,” the two best.
“Good God Damn”
Butler gets playful (with words) as he takes the vocal reins back on “Good God Damn.” Here, god damn is used dually – more on that later. A more restrained record, this is respectable, low-key soul. Why so low-key? It connects with “Creature Comfort,” specifically the suicidal tale imparted.
“You want to get messed up? / When the times get rough / Put your favorite record on baby / And fill the bathtub up.”
Now going back to the context of god damn. In one sense, Butler seems to be literally reacting – swearing – in reference to the extreme situation. He doesn’t ever literally swear, but there’s that implication. The more accurate interpretation is arguably an epiphany of sorts – potentially discovering the awesomeness of God and saying, damn. In some regards, this is one of the more intriguing songs.
“Put Your Money on Me”
“Put Your Money on Me” puts love, not money, above everything else. Here, Butler sings presumably about his love and dedication to his wife, Regine. On the chorus, he sings:
“Put your money on me / If you think I’m losing you, you must be crazy / All your money on me / I’m never gonna let you go, even when it’s easy.”
Lyrically, “Put Your Money on Me” is more poetic than many of songs on Everything Now, a pro. “We Don’t Deserve Love” follows, giving the album another low-key record, at least initially. It’s respectable, but lengthy at six-and-a-half minutes. “Everything Now (continued)” serves as the outro, much like “Everything_Now (Continued)” commenced the album.
To reiterate, Everything Now marks the weakest album of the Arcade Fire discography. Man that sounds a bit harsh though, considering it has its moments. Interestingly, the singles – particularly “Everything Now” and “Creature Comfort” – rank among the best moments. Still, there’s filler that doesn’t entice the listener to revisit it, particularly the stretch beginning with “Peter Pan.” Ultimately, Everything Now is good Arcade Fire, but not quite great Arcade Fire.
Gems: “Everything Now,” “Signs of Life,” “Creature Comfort,” “Electric Blue” & “Put Your Money on Me”