Friday, July 28, 2017

Arcade Fire - Everything Now Review

Since their immaculate Funeral in 2004, Arcade Fire has never shied away from cultural commentary and social activism. It's at the crux of Indie music, a nondescript genre that the group led by Win Butler and Regine Chassange helped to define. Every album charted a course for eternal enlightenment, whether it be in the form of adolescent awakening, the condemnation of self-serving religious leaders, or pontificating the fall of suburbia, Arcade Fire has always been on the cusp of complete self-awareness. Most impressive of all, Plato's Allegory Of The Cave sowed itself into the very fabric of their entire discography. So, where does one go when they eventually see the world for what it is, forgoing the shadows of what they once thought it was? For Arcade Fire, that's tackling the issue of over-consumption, demanding information overload and the resulting distress that follows. At least that's what Everything Now promised us. From the title, to the lead single, to the cover art, to 'Creature Comfort' and 'Signs Of Life,' the commitment to another modern day manifesto was assured. Instead, Everything Now is Arcade Fire's first disappointment in their illustrious career, sidestepping insight for low-level romanticisms, scorched by stadium-filling Disco Rock that favors the arena to your preferred listening experience.

Unlike how most feel, the production featured prominently on Everything Now isn't the worst aspect of it. However, the means by which it exists is. That being, the clear desire to make a tour-proof record. I can see it now. The stage, dark and ominous, mist flowing in, beams of light bouncing off one another as the first 'Everything Now (Continued)' plays. Then comes the big hit. Then a slew of crowd-raising anthems before, finally, concluding with the same mutable encore. Sudden cut to black after a swelling string arrangement included. Seek towards 'Creature Comfort's' music video for a preview, an attraction that neglects the tragedy in the lyrics for a dance party where strobe lights turn Reed Perry, Will Butler, and Tim Kingsbury into inessential hype men. The decision is pedantic, ignoring a sublime approach to album structuring (as seen on Reflektor) in favor of swarming, track-by-track hits, masqueraded every so lightly by song transitions of dampened nightlife. There isn't a low to offset the high, and the look-alike intro and outro make repeated listens irritable. Simply excluding the 40-second taste test, beginning with the booming 'Everything Now,' would've been a far better settlement.

Along the lines of smash Disco hits, Arcade Fire's insistence on crafting uncouth hooks that prey on our inherent gratification make Everything Now's roaring vigor easy to hate, but also easy to love. At their heart, these are Pop songs. Butler's confrontational lyrics, Chassagne's delirious hollering, the production's blunt earsplitting, capped off by hooks that scream at you until you give in and scream back. There's 'Chemistry,' which shoe-taps like a barnyard hoedown, infectious despite me not wanting to hear another second. Then there's 'Electric Blue's' charming jitterbug, repetitive as all hell but oddly captivating. Nothing ascends quite as drastically as 'Creature Comfort' though, as Chassagne's grating shriek pounces like ABBA on steroids. I love it. Many will hate it. ABBA's your stereotypical point of comparison for Disco, so while it's not refined, I find it apt. Even 'Put Your Money On Me' borrows greatly from 'Take A Chance On Me,' down to the syrupy romanticism of Adult Contemporary. And while we're there, let's direct our focus towards the baiting pleasures of 'We Don't Deserve Love,' a track that rips the irresistible hook from Donna Lewis' 1996 one-hit wonder 'I Love You Always Forever.' It's the only moderately paced song on Everything Now, making it the best deep cut.

If we look past the production that stems further and further from Arcade Fire's source, which isn't difficult to do given the trivial nature of it, we find Everything Now's mediocre content. Apart from a few embarrassing songs throughout their discography, Arcade Fire has been fiercely devoted to heretical dialogue through a nonconformist means. 'Everything Now' is apart of this bunch, taking direct aim at humanities overindulgence in surplus pleasures, bringing about comparisons to Modest Mouse's narration of the 90's. 'Creature Comfort' is too, dissecting the growing concern over teenage suicide and the body image bullying that escalates it. Not surprisingly, these are Everything Now's two best songs, existing in two states simultaneously; catchy and conscious. Unfortunately, they were also the two lead singles. Much like Neon Bible or Funeral, Everything Now's nooks should've been filled with equally satisfying topics. Rather, the majority retreats and renounces the prospects of another daring record, choosing instead to lull in pitiful melodrama. 'Peter Pan,' 'Chemistry,' 'Put Your Money On Me,' and 'Good God Damn' amount to nothing more than flirtation between Win and Regine, a perplexing angle given the two's past tendency to remove their intimate relationship when it came to the band.

In all honesty, the gushy half of Everything Now drowns the conscious half in slobber, reducing the worth of the overall project as it's intent is never known. In previous instances, Arcade Fire's title track has always summarized the grand theme. Here, 'Everything Now' wishes to do the same but can't because nothing, apart from the curious twinning of 'Infinite Content's,' falls under the same subject matter. This, then, makes Everything Now Arcade Fire's first record to enjoy purely from a musical standpoint. The result isn't flattering. Looking back on Reflektor, and more precisely the flak it received, knowing now the future that fans would endure, that double LP stands strong as an amalgamation of styles. Disco and Indie creating a scintillating spark. Now, we're just covered in glitter. Earlier this year, 'I Give You Power' hinted at a sonic submergence of Alternative Dance, a style of music in our modern era that completely forgoes physical instruments. In retrospect, that abysmal political-pandering would've fit swimmingly on the Gorillaz' Humanz. Despite their success at political sophistication a decade ago, Arcade Fire turning rock stars means, thankfully, Everything Now's absolved from cultural commentary. And to think it could've been worse.

No comments:

Post a Comment