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Arcade Fire – Everything Now

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Jul 26, 2017.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from chorus.fm for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    When Arcade Fire won the Album of the Year Grammy for The Suburbs, it felt like the beginning of something. Six years on from Funeral, the record that made the band torchbearers of the critically acclaimed indie rock scene, here they were, finally being recognized on the big stage. The records they beat—pop juggernauts from Katy Perry, Eminem, Lady Gaga, and Lady Antebellum—were all more indicative of what the radio sounded like in 2010. But Arcade Fire’s victory showed that, maybe, the pop world was finally ready to embrace something darker and more nuanced. Maybe they were ready to let a rock band back into the fold.

    Looking back now, the Grammy win feels more like the end of something. Future Grammy winners didn’t sound or look much like Arcade Fire. Neither did radio stars. Instead, on 2013’s Reflektor, Arcade Fire started looking (and sounding) a lot like the pop insiders. Just like most of the other marquee acts that released albums that year—Daft Punk, Justin Timberlake (x2), Jay-Z, Eminem, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga—Arcade Fire made it clear that they were going for a capital-B Blockbuster. The rollout was excessive and overblown; the album was long and ambitious; the hype stretched on for months. And the songs…well, they didn’t have that much to offer, at the end of the deep, deep rabbit hole that Arcade Fire dug for fans. Writing for Grantland, Steven Hyden called 2013 “The Year Music Failed to Blockbust.” He wasn’t wrong, and Arcade Fire was at the center of it.

    In this context, Everything Now, Arcade Fire’s fifth LP, actually feels kind of refreshing—at least in concept. Reflektor stank because the songcraft wasn’t strong enough to hold the weight of all the ambition, hype, and endless song lengths. Everything Now has a comparatively lightweight and almost tossed-off feel to it. The title track apes “Dancing Queen.” “Chemistry” apes “We Will Rock You” and “I Love Rock and Roll.” The two “Infinite Content” tracks sound like one of those YouTube stars who sarcastically tries to play the same song in as many different styles as possible—the first version a double-time punk run-through, the second a country-tinged R.E.M. number. After Reflektor, where Win Butler tried to address isolation and consumerism in the internet age (or something like that) by stealing Bono’s faux-ironic characters from the 1990s, these more playful influences and experiments are a breath of fresh air.

    At least, they would be if the songs were any good. But somewhere along the way from that Grammy Album of Year win to today, Arcade Fire seem like they forgot how to write songs. Like Reflektor, most of these tracks don’t work as compelling individual works or as pieces of a larger whole. The difference is that Reflektor, for all its faults, still felt like an event. (And still had some gems: that album’s second disc, while jammed with songs that overstay their welcomes, is pretty solid.) Everything Now plays more like a B-sides record. There are a few worthwhile moments, but most of the runtime is devoted to songs that don’t go anywhere worth going. The brassy “Chemistry” is especially dire, to the point that it’s already been (rightfully) labeled as a low point in the band’s catalog. (To be fair, other first-half snoozers like “Signs of Life” and “Peter Pan” could be worthy nominees for the same title.)

    Reflektor took Arcade Fire’s sound from sweeping indie rock to something more electronic and pop-focused. Everything Now pulls back on the electronic elements, but still feels more groove and beat-driven than the first three Arcade Fire LPs. That’s not a bad thing by itself: the bassline on “Good Goddamn” is an undeniable foot tapper, and “Creature Comfort,” the best song on the record, achieves what it does thanks largely to a relentless drumbeat and a slick synth groove. But what made Arcade Fire great on those first few records was their ability to capture communal emotion through big, open-hearted melodies. Hearing songs like “Wake Up” and “Keep the Car Running” was like singing along to Springsteen anthems at a live show: putting your arm around the stranger next to you, shouting yourself hoarse, and battling dual impulses to laugh and to cry. It was triumphant and heartbreaking at the same time, with a level of earnestness that tends to turn bands into punchlines (especially in our cynical modern age) but instead earned Arcade Fire a spot at the head of the indie rock table.

    Everything Now never inspires that level of emotion. The singles get the closest: the big climactic “nah nah nah” section in the title track will probably play well in concert, while “Creature Comfort” is an energetic powder keg, a song that works despite Butler’s ham-fisted lyric about Funeral convincing a fan not to commit suicide. The slow and steady build of penultimate track “We Don’t Deserve Love,” is also beautiful, and is one of the few parts of the record that seems truly heartfelt. But most of Everything Now rests in the same slow-to-mid-tempo vein, with Butler’s voice rarely rising above his unremarkable mid-register. About half an hour through the record, you’ll probably wish that Butler would start bellowing and letting loose, the way he used to, but he never does. (Régine Chassagne, meanwhile, is limited to one lead vocal turn, on the acceptable but sleepy “Electric Blue.”) Robbed of those emotive moments that used to make Arcade Fire special, Everything Now is an exercise in waiting for a catharsis that never happen. Coming from a band that used to do catharsis better than just about anyone, that’s a massive letdown. It begs the question of how one of our generation’s most inspiring rock bands got roped into being one of its least compelling pop bands.

     
  2. Jonathan

    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Verified

    I loved Reflektor, so I'll definitely be avoiding your recommendation and giving this at least one listen.
     
  3. Spenny

    Regular

    Good review, but I really hope that I take a different viewpoint than you do. Everything Now and Creature Comfort are great jams, so hopefully the rest of the album will shape up okay. I guess we'll see!
     
    Serenity Now likes this.
  4. "his unremarkable mid-register" :crylaugh:
     
    dadbolt and Craig Manning like this.
  5. AshlandATeam Jul 26, 2017
    (Last edited: Jul 26, 2017)
    AshlandATeam

    Regular

    Funeral and Neon Bible are classics - two of the best records of the 2000s, if not all time. In my opinion. It's hard to understand that the band who made those made Reflektor (and now this).
     
  6. Gen Handley

    Regular

    I second this.
     
  7. youwontknow

    If I smile with my teeth, bet you'd believe me

    Hoping I dig this album a bit more lol. But even if not, I got tix to see them in October. And they are one of the best live acts I've ever seen! Just mind-blowing performances every time! Triple encores and 15 people on stage (somehow) and such.

    Other live favs would be: Brand New, Paramore, Bleachers, Damien Rice and of course, Motion City (RIP).
     
    Nate_Johnson likes this.
  8. Steve_JustAGuy

    Trusted

    I thought Reflektor was fine and expect this to be as well. I never liked The Suburbs as much as others, I guess I just don't see it as their career high point, Grammy win and all.
     
    Serenity Now likes this.
  9. Craig Manning

    @FurtherFromSky Moderator

    Interestingly, this album has made me think that I might be too harsh on Reflektor. I've listened to some of that record this week and it's surprisingly listenable compared to this.

    Those are the best songs on the record.

    Ha. I've never been a huge fan of his voice, but he's definitely more interesting when he's straining on high notes.

    Guessing the live shows will still be good.
     
    Brett W and youwontknow like this.
  10. Michael Qualiano

    mikeq

    I don't really understand the notion that this band has been on the decline. They are one of the more innovative bands in the scene. I think after Suburbs they could have made another three records with their same old sounds, but they really changed it up. Reflektor is a really god record IMO. So I'm looking forward to this. Appreciate the review though. well written as always.
     
    Serenity Now likes this.
  11. Craig Manning

    @FurtherFromSky Moderator

    The Suburbs doesn't sound anything like Funeral. Neither does Neon Bible. They had pretty distinct identities for themselves on those albums. They could have continued growing as a band without ditching everything that made them appealing.
     
    AshlandATeam likes this.
  12. SteveLikesMusic

    approx. 3rd coolest Steve on here Supporter

    Couldn't disagree more. Reflektor and EN both contain some of their very best songs ( awful sound, it's never over, afterlife, put your money on me, we don't deserve love).

    Having said that, it seems like this site almost never posts negative reviews so we appreciate your honest opinion.

    This album does contain their worst song in the middle (Chemistry), and a couple meh ones (Peter pan, infinite content) but the rest is so good.
     
    Jim likes this.
  13. Barresi Jul 26, 2017
    (Last edited: Jul 26, 2017)
    Barresi

    Spooky Space Kook Supporter

    I've been preparing myself to be pretty underwhelmed, given the direction they seemed to be going in after Reflektor and not really loving any of the singles. Their first three albums are all up there with my favorites of all-time, and they're still one of my favorite bands, but yeah... this seems like it's going to be disappointing.

    Edit: Should clarify that I'm enjoying the new singles a lot, just not nearly as much as prior singles from this band.
     
  14. Jim

    Trusted Supporter

    Yeah I like this. It's not great, but it's solid.

    Also, I legit thought "is this the first negative review this site has posted?"
     
  15. okayibelieveyou

    Tam Rogic CSC Prestigious

    Seems harsh but it is your opinion so that's fine.

    I think without chemistry and the two infinite contents, this would resonate a lot more with people. Those songs really break the flow of the album, deviate from the general sound and feel of the album and are downright bad songs. Infinite content has driven their social media so much though so I suppose it's served its purpose.

    It's nice to hear them still pushing their comfort zone with their use of instruments. There's a lot of songs here that will kill live, and have already when I saw them. I think the album could've done with some editing tracklist wise but it's a very good album following on from a very good album. I always feel the expectation of an Arcade Fire album is hard to live upto post-Grammy win.
     
    youwontknow likes this.
  16. Ska Senanake

    Trusted

    This review smells like farts
     
    Serenity Now and SEANoftheDEAD like this.
  17. SEANoftheDEAD

    Trusted

    I disliked one of the released songs so far but will definitely be checking this out despite this review.

    I loved Reflektor, thought it was quite ambitious but also thought the song writing DID hold up.
     
  18. Craig Manning

    @FurtherFromSky Moderator

    I'm glad you dig it. Wish I liked it more than I did. I kind of struggle to get through a lot of the songs, though.

    "Afterlife" is an admittedly great song. I actually like most of disc two of Reflektor, and a few tracks off disc one. I think it could have been a solid single LP if they had cut some of the tracks and tightened up some of the longer songs. I actually liked that album a fair amount when it came out, but have soured on it a lot over the years. There are a few songs on there that I genuinely hate, too, so that's part of the problem.

    This is definitely my first negative review since the AP.net/Chorus switch. I don't go out of my way to do them at all. I just wanted to write about this record because I really used to like this band and think their transformation into something that irks a lot of people is kind of fascinating.

    "Chemistry" and the "Infinite Content" tracks are bad, but I think "Peter Pan" is on the same level of awful, and I also really don't like "Signs of Life." I'd say there are five songs on the record that are above average. The rest is middling to bad, imo.

    Thanks!
     
  19. adelphi_rocks

    Newbie Supporter

    Yeah I loved Reflektor, and I think this might be the prevailing opinion among most Arcade Fire fans I know. Dafuq is this dude talking about in this review??
     
  20. youwontknow

    If I smile with my teeth, bet you'd believe me

    It's just a reflektor.
     
    SuNDaYSTaR likes this.
  21. Just wanted to say that even though I don't really care about AF this review was so well written - good mix of objectivity and subjective opinion, nice flow of ideas, consistent tone - I read the whole thing. Nice job! Can't say the same about the record, apparently :crylaugh:
     
    Craig Manning likes this.
  22. SuNDaYSTaR

    Regular

    I didn't like Reflektor at all at first but it definitely grew on me. I hope the same happens with Everything Now.
     
  23. contra11mundum

    I hate spoilers. Supporter

    The funny thing about this review, is I read this and the entire time I felt defensive of Arcade Fire. I wanted to disagree with you. I love those first 3 albums so, so much.

    I even loved Reflektor when it came out. But I totally agree that it hasn't held up well. There are a few great tracks but overall very weak and forgettable.

    I've been enjoying these new singles okay, but I listened to Funeral the other day and it really hit me how much they actually have declined.

    It's depressing. I hope they swing back some day.

    Great review!
     
    Craig Manning likes this.
  24. Craig Manning

    @FurtherFromSky Moderator

    The return to form has gotta be inevitable right? Maybe next album.
     
  25. SamLevi11

    Trusted Prestigious

    Creature Comfort is a great track, but I'm not sold on the other single. Great review by the way.
     
    Craig Manning likes this.