By Harry Sullivan (@radiohedge)
It’s almost anger-inducing how little effort it seems that Arcade Fire have put into their newest project Everything Now. They’ve opted for a more minimalistic approach to songwriting, though unlike, for example, Beach House, they’re unable to pull it off and instead come up off as lazy and pretentious.
Starting with the title track and the first single released, Everything Now, it’s surprising how the first band that comes to mind is ABBA. With a resurgence of soul and R&B in the musical zeitgeist, Arcade Fire clearly wanted to get on the nostalgia bandwagon but unfortunately fell at the first hurdle and selected the wrong genre: disco.
As you listen through the album, you hear very little musical development from the band (especially from a percussion perspective) and experience some frustration with the lack of lyrical depth, apart from maybe Creature Comfort, which deals with important ideas of self-image. However, the production on Regine Chassagne’s voice means that she’s too whiny and too low in the mix, so you can’t actually make out what she’s singing.
Let’s just get the criticism out in the open, shall we? Infinite Content is musically and lyrically the worst pop-punk song in the world; Infinite_Content is just filler, a rehash of the previous song inadvertently in the style of Wild-West saloon music; Chemistry sounds like an awful parody of a ska song; Signs of Life should be in the background of a bloody camera advert and what on Earth is Peter Pan?!
We Don't Deserve Love is basically just a shit rip-off of Here Comes The Night Time from their previous, instrumentally superior album Reflektor. Through the poppy direction the band was going in with their fourth LP, we should have taken it as warning sign for Everything Now – it was inevitable, like Trump’s presidency.
One of the few redeeming features of this album are the track transitions. The title track is undeniably catchy and the intro track into it has a cool, almost goosebump-inducing effect. There are a couple more tracks with something to offer too. Put Your Money on Me sounds like a more upbeat The xx, with the first sign of some energy from the drummer. Electric Blue is ok too, though it’s difficult to read the title without looking forward to Sound and Vision by David Bowie, which is an infinitely better song with a lot more effort put into the songwriting process.
On future listens you could be tricked into thinking that maybe the drumming works, maybe some of the riffs are clever, and maybe there is some hidden lyrical depth. However your mind will swiftly change when you take the context the musical adventure in the rest of their discography which just isn’t present here. There’s very little evidence in this album of the strings that were so prominent in their previous work, and in general the dull repetition of the lyrics and instrumentation makes you think that maybe they should just drop the pretence and become the next Coldplay.
Maybe they should have just released the title track as a single and left it there. Like ‘this is the style of music we’re thinking about releasing at some point in the future, we’ll give it a bit more consideration and come back to you in a year or two’. Fine. Great. Instead, the band is selling out in the worst possible sense, which is questionable considering they've had a huge fanbase since The Suburbs meaning this abomination was not necessary in the slightest.
As a final aside, don’t buy into their satirical company, 'Everything Now Corp'. It might be a clever marketing campaign, but it has one damning flaw; in parodying right-wing ideologies of consumption, they have in fact become the very phenomenon that they were taking the piss out of in the first place. Capitalism, eh?
Holistically, Everything Now is certainly the Canadians’ least instrumentally and musically diverse. Like a classic two-chord Chainsmokers song, it quickly merges into a half-arsed sickly-sweet pop album with no flavour – like Lucozade Original without the refreshment. It genuinely makes you feel like you don't want to listen to contemporary music any more, that it’s not worthwhile getting excited for a release by one of your favourite bands. Maybe there's a good God, damn, but there's no evidence of it here.