Canadian Indie rockers Arcade Fire made their long-awaited return this summer with Everything Now, a varied and confident album that tackles the absurdity of modern life.
Most of the standouts are in the first half of the record. The title track is a euphoric, classic pop anthem that embraces (a little ironically) consumer culture. “Signs of Life” is a moody, Bowie-eque dance track about that hollow feeling after a night out, and is immediately followed by “Creature Comfort”, which combines upbeat synth-laden pop track with lyrics that openly discuss mental health issues, and the toll that a lust for fame can have on a young mind. “Creature Comfort” is where this album is at its most brash, and Arcade Fire pull it off through the sheer bravado with which the lyrics tackle the subject.
Other standouts include “Chemistry”, which feels at first like an easy going boy-meets-girl club song, but on a second listen, the lyrics are a little too aggressive. In keepping with the genre. That this goes unnoticed on a first listen is part of the point; Arcade Fire are taking a jab at the unhealthy expectations one might have of another at a nightclub. The first verse says that ‘you can’t deny’ the chemistry between the singer and his subject, but by the first verse the tone has become much more forceful and threatening; ‘I’m gonna have you baby, it’s no use’ is a little difficult to hear as playful and innocent. The other, more sombre side of this tale opens the second half of the album; “Electric Blue”, a more emotionally resonant track about a woman losing a love she never really knew. This is the only lead vocal track on the album from Regine Chassagne, and while her voice ascends to some shrill heights, her performance is fueled by the heartbreak and confusion the song warrants.
The remaining tracks are not particularly poor, but compared to the standouts they’re somewhat forgettable. Musically, the album suffers from a slight lack of originality; Arcade Fire’s strength has historically been their ability to reinvent their style between albums. Everything Now, while fresh and entertaining in a lot of ways, suffers on its filler tracks from stepping on the coattails of 2013’s Reflektor. While certainly a fine album, it lacks the originality of their seminal Funeral, or the ambition of The Suburbs. Nevertheless,. this album is great as it sits among Arcade Fire’s best, and comes highly recommended.
Everything Now is currently available for purchase, and Arcade Fire have a series of tour dates in and around Toronto scheduled between September and November.