Every Arcade Fire Album, Ranked From Worst To Best

Since their first demo back in 2001, up until their critically divisive fifth LP last year, Canadian indie rock outfit Arcade Fire have had a knack for inciting strong reactions from the general public and critics – most of the time positive. Not one to stick to the same bread and butter formula, the Montreal band have constantly changed up their sound which helps to make them one of the most exciting acts the 21st century has provided thus far.

Of course, we can’t simply sit idly by and not ask the question: what’s their best record? Well you won’t have to ponder for much longer as Transistor’s fantastic four Jake (@jjjjaketh), Josh (@jxshadams), Kieran (@kiercannon), and Sarah (@hollowcrown) have helped to 100-per-cent-definitively rank their albums – will there be hot takes? Absolutely. Will there be an obvious loser? Most definitely? Will you be pissed off at us? Probably. Anyway, let’s keep the car running and skrt off to our ranking…

Quick disclaimer: This is, like, our opinion or whatever, dude. Disagree? The comments down below will house whatever rage you’re feeling.


5. Everything Now (2017)

Jake [5th]: While I don’t hate Everything Now with the feverishness that many other people do, there’s absolutely no denying that it’s the black sheep in Arcade Fire’s discography. The promo campaign in the lead up to the album rubbed a LOT of people the wrong way, with the band adopting a satirical über-capitalist facade, and unleashing the Everything Now Corporation on the world.

We’re not here to talk about that, however (though I, amongst many others, have plenty to say on the subject). We’re here to talk about the tunes, and while it’s the weakest Arcade Fire album, there are still bangers to be found here. The title track, for instance, is a natural progression (or regression?) of the sound Arcade Fire adopted on The Suburbs, with a bit of Reflektor thrown in.

Creature Comfort is a barnstormer of a song, with Reginé rocking a FUCKING KEYTAR during live sets, and the undeniably massive sounding Electric Blue gets its funk on. An incredibly divisive album, then. But a quote-unquote “bad” Arcade Fire album is still better than most other records.

Josh [5th]: What is there to say about this record that hasn’t already been said? By and large considered a disappointment except for the few aurally challenged, Arcade Fire’s fifth LP saw them aim for the nosebleed seats of the stadium with infectious pop melodies, danceable grooves, and biting social commentary that was hinted to be a more streamlined version of the group’s last album, “Reflektor”, thanks to its phenomenal lead titular single.

However, their reach went beyond their grasp, and lazy songwriting, embarrassing marketing, and tired performances hampered down their latest, with few highlights scattered amongst the track listing (“Creature Comfort” and “Electric Blue” being amongst them). They may have attained new commercial heights with “Everything Now”, but at the cost of their reputation as critical darlings and one of our generation’s most forward-thinking bands.

Kieran [5th]: Despite generating astronomical levels of hype with a multitude of teasers and visuals of the band marching about in matching EN regalia, Arcade Fire’s latest release ultimately fell rather flat on its face.

The cryptic social media promo campaign had us all hoping for an even bigger, bolder expansion on Reflektor’s avant-garde approach and while some tracks delivered to a certain extent, such as Creature Comfort and ridiculously catchy title track Everything Now, the album’s overriding narrative of subversive consumerist critique felt all too often like a crutch to fall back on; a cover-up for a lack of songwriting ideas.

Chemistry, for example: is it steeped in countless layers of irony, or is it just a bit terrible? Overall, the reason EN languishes so far behind the rest is that, unlike any album they’ve released up to this point, it’s simply not an enjoyable listen from front to back.

Sarah [5th]: Parody-like promotion aside – 2017’s Everything Now fails to deliver the multifaceted creativity explored in Arcade Fire’s previous works. It is clear that the band attempted to push their own boundaries by following a simpler and slightly more abrasive path, however, this shift wasn’t well received for good reason.

There are some listenable tracks from this record, such as Electric Blue, that stray from AF’s sound but still deliver. With a career spanning almost 15 years and a cult following, changing your core characteristics and drawing from completely abstract influences can challenge fan loyalty, as this isn’t the sound they have grown to adore.  

4. Neon Bible (2007)

Josh [4th]: There’s nothing bad per se about “Neon Bible” – the production is a step up from the lo-fi smudge of their debut, the performances are as tight as ever, and it features some of Arcade Fire’s greatest hits. But ultimately it suffers from middle child syndrome, lacking both the shock-of-the-new of “Funeral” and the grand, overblown ambition of “The Suburbs”.

The expansion into Americana is a nice touch, expanding the group’s instrumental palette to include organs and mandolins (see: “Intervention” and “Keep The Car Running”), but it does little to keep certain tracks memorable, especially in the latter of the LP. At least it features their greatest album closer to date, a cover of Peter Gabriel’s “My Body Is A Cage” that is bursting at the seams with teenage tension and adolescent angst before erupting into a heavenly climax that could fill a cathedral.

Kieran [4th]: I feel rotten about Neon Bible ending up in this lowly position, I really do. In fact, it’s the album that got me into Arcade Fire in the first place and it’s arguably the one that propelled them into stadium-filling indie rock stardom. For some reason, though, it’s the only pre-EN album I rarely find myself revisiting.

By most other metrics, it’s a great album. The swelling organs and wonderfully dark lyrics of My Body Is a Cage and Intervention marry together perfectly to create stunning pieces of baroque pop while the intense, upbeat No Cars Go has established itself as a firm fan favourite.

Compared to the sheer single-mindedness of Funeral, for example, Neon Bible has expanded outwards thematically, covering a vast array of topics and incorporating plenty of grandiose instrumentation but it doesn’t quite deliver the same gut-punch as the others.

Sarah [3rd]: A pivotal point in the Arcade Fire discography, Neon Bible is a graduation from their heavily artistic debut but remains stylistically vague – leaving room to play in future albums. Sandwiched between the band’s first studio album and their most refined release, Neon Bible serves as a guide of sorts.

The problem with this album is that the storytelling is somewhat 2D – and with such an emotive album under their belt already, this one feels almost vapid in context. The whole album is frustrating as it fails to deliver any real depth, and we have several examples that Arcade Fire are capable of this on celestial levels.

Jake [3rd]: The darkest of any of their albums, Arcade Fire’s sophomore effort Neon Bible is a bit of a fiddly record to get adjusted to. But when you do, it bloody shines. With song topics ranging from phones and computers taking over THE PEOPLE, MAN! (Black Mirror) to failing religion (Intervention and (Antichrist Television Blues)), the topics are heavy but dealt with with a deft hand.

They didn’t abandon their knack for crafting a bonafide festival classic, however, with Keep the Car Running, No Cars Go and even the ridiculously sad album closer My Body is a Cage being live set mainstays since the album’s release. Neon Bible is another jewel in Arcade Fire’s crown.

3. Reflektor (2013)

Kieran [3rd]: Far be it from Arcade Fire to be accused of resting on their laurels – a trip to Régine Chassagne’s ancestral homeland of Haiti was enough inspiration for the Canadian indie-rock outfit to reinvent themselves, more or less.

Reflektor is a smorgasbord of musical influences spanning Haitian rara to dance-rock, an illustration of the group’s laissez-faire attitude; one which results in their most imaginative and carefree recordings to date, the aural equivalent of letting your hair down and dancing like an absolute bam.

For a band who were previously considered fairly earnest and sombre, they’ve decided to cast off indie-rock conventions and go with the flow – this rhythm-orientated approach is perfectly captured with the syncopated beats of Here Comes The Night Time. It’s loose, it’s unconventional, it’s paranoid and anxious but – crucially – Reflektor is utterly, utterly compelling. The only petty grievance preventing this being a contender for my #1 is its gargantuan 85 minute run time.

Sarah [4th]: Unlike Everything Now, Reflektor breaks the band’s mould while still holding integrity as an Arcade Fire album. Songs like Joan of Arc show a lot of experimentation and exemplifies the bands’ infamous ability to create highly interesting, enjoyable music. Into the records second half we see foreshadowing with Porno – a blunt, steady song – arguably better than anything from Everything Now, but still lays the foundation for that release.

Jake [4th]: Reflektor is very, very, very good. It’s also, to me, a bit scatterbrained (like Everything Now). Reflektor knows what it wants to talk about (namely the rise of technology) and it utilises a smorgasbord or genres to convey its messages.

Reflektor is punky, disco-y, electro…-y(?), glam-y… you name it, Arcade Fire touched on it with this album. And that isn’t really a bad thing, Win sacrificing a cohesive identity allowed Arcade Fire to be as free and as experimental as they wanted, and for the most part, it paid off.

Birthing songs like We Exist, Reflektor, Afterlife and Normal Person. It’s an album that’s simultaneously weighed down and elevated by the fact that it’s so all over the place from a genre perspective, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Josh [2nd]: A controversial pick for a number two spot? Perhaps. A lot of complaints have been levied at the band’s fourth album: it’s too long, over-indulgent, the change in tone and sound too jarring, the stage show and marketing too gimmicky. But this is Arcade Fire at the peak of their ambition, and if there is one thing Win Butler and co. do well, it’s ambition.

Every song might not be mind-blowing, but they’re memorable and unique in the context of the album, and the listener genuinely feels like they have completed a journey by the time they wrap up on the jaw-droppingly gorgeous “Supersymmetry”. The production comes courtesy of James Murphy, so you know it’s going to sound tighter than your grandmother’s attic (and that’s not a euphemism), and the instrumentation has been made even more eclectic to harbour the influence of African, Haitian and Latin music. From start to finish, this is an absolute joy to listen to – just don’t forget to take a deep breath before you begin.

2. Funeral (2004)

Sarah [2nd]: As a debut, Funeral thrust Arcade Fire into the indie mainstream – and almost immediately helped the band make their claim as important figures in the scene. This record perfectly exemplifies their creativity, be it through the actual songs, the titles or the artwork, with each aspect setting them apart from popular alternative music at the time.

What truly makes Funeral special is its inherent ability to pander to people from all walks of life, it sits happily in the middle of the spectrum between too much and too little. Having this as a debut really pulled in a loyal fanbase from the get-go as it was widely spread across societal groups – and this has been fundamental in the bands following successes. Without Funeral, Arcade Fire would perhaps fail to be the grandeur figure we know it as.

Jake [2nd]: It’s still staggering to me to this day that Funeral is Arcade Fire’s first full-length album. Already masters of their craft at this early a stage of their careers, Win and his merry band of misfits set the world of Indie alight with the release of Funeral in 2004. Imagine writing songs like Wake Up, Crown of Love, Power Out and Rebellion on your FIRST. FUCKING. ALBUM. It’s almost unfair. One of the best debut albums ever, unquestionably.

Josh [3rd]: The one that started it all. It’s hard to remember a time when Arcade Fire weren’t considered A Very Big Deal, and it almost seems like that from their inception they weren’t anything less than that – to be fair, when David Bowie buys all your CDs and distributes them to his friends, you aren’t exactly going to be just an overnight sensation.

And so “Funeral” became a landmark indie record, brimming with tunes and earnest that made the world fall in love with the Canadian band. Yet time has not been kind to their debut, with the production seeming at first charming now being utterly grating, and it lacks the slick, rehearsed nature of later records that made them a joy to listen to. But it still packs one hell of a punch, especially on cuts such as “Power Out” and “Rebellion” that will keep arenas and festivals screaming along until the world implodes in a nuclear haze.

Kieran [2nd]: When we compare Funeral, Reflektor and The Suburbs, we’re really looking at the finest of margins. All three are masterpieces in their own right, and a case could easily be made that Funeral deserves to occupy that top spot.

It’s simply staggering that any group – even one as absurdly talented as Arcade Fire – could release a debut as masterful as this. Far from what the title suggests, it’s neither melancholy nor downbeat; in fact, it’s a vibrant, empowering celebration of life and a wise-beyond-their-years contemplation of mortality, which manages to be uniquely relatable no matter your generation or demographic.

I’m going to stick my neck out and say that Wake Up is the finest track they’ve ever churned out – in fact, if you’ve ever managed to listen to it without welling up *at all*, consider our friendship terminated.

1. The Suburbs (2010)

Jake [1st]: Who’d of thunk that an album about a fake war in a fake town would be so fucking good? This is Arcade Fire’s masterpiece, a stone-cold classic in every sense of the word that’s only getting better and more relevant as the years go on.

From the understated, yet lavish (Half Light I, Sprawl I), to the utterly gargantuan love mainstays of Sprawl II and Ready to Start, each track compliments the other wonderfully and makes for not only the most cohesive album in AF’s discography but the best.

Josh [1st]: This is the one. Where else in Arcade Fire’s discography do the twin peaks of what attracts fans far and wide to them meet so perfectly? The earnestness of their earlier records combines with the ambitiousness of their later to make a concept album that just about anyone can relate to: growing up.

Win Butler’s lyrics are at the top of their game from start to finish, capturing the simultaneous wondrous and jaded nature of your young adult years, when the world is at your feet but all you can see is your hometown, and the performances feel rehearsed to fall apart at any second, from how energetic they are (“Month of May”) to just how damn emotionally tense the whole band can feel on a track (“Half Light II”).

There’s not a weak moment on the track-listing despite its fifteen song-long runtime, which is not something any of the other band’s albums can say never mind any other band in existence at the moment, and by its end, you’ll want to jump right back to the start. When the dust settles, “The Suburbs” will still be standing.

Kieran [1st]: I’ve always thought of The Suburbs as a grown up, 20-something version of Funeral. It’s been at the booze and the fags for a while too long and it’s a little more world-weary, a tad post-apocalyptic even, but it’s still achingly, endearingly human.

In my eyes, Funeral and The Suburbs are both as near as makes no difference perfect, making this an extremely difficult call to make. The latter edges it due to the sheer poeticism of its lyrics. Too numerous are they to list here, but the amount of times I’ve sat in sheer euphoria and appreciation hearing Win Butler’s signature wail on this record is scarcely believable.

Sarah [1st]: The showcase that is The Suburbs is potentially a genre-defining release, and almost definitely a career-defining one for Arcade Fire. With the ongoing support, garnered from the run of Funeral and Neon Bible, the band were absolutely pining for something more impressive, scale and concept wise.

The Suburbs follows a clear path from start to end, is filled with storytelling and is so powerfully emotive it makes the listers hairs stand on end. Ballads like the eponymous The Suburbs, We Used to Wait and Sprawl II propelled the band from venues to arenas, showing the music community that Arcade Fire we far more than just a music group – they were an experience, they are ethereal, atmospheric, creators.

The Suburbs proved them as a timeless band, whose music will provide an escape for anyone who needs, any time.

10 Worst Songs of 2017

Last year our disdain seemed to be focussed on right-wing racists, a newly elected tangerine and a bucket load of celebrity deaths. 2017 changed this big time by…well nothing has really changed bar celebrities becoming dead to us rather than six feet under. Another thing that has remained rather consistent is the amount of horrible music we’ve been graced (?) with. Of course, there have been plenty of amazing tunes that still give us faith in the art form but there’s a lot that have done the complete opposite – 10 to be exact. So without further ado, here’s our tight and rage-fuelled list that had us reaching for the skip button… 

10. Arcade Fire – Chemistry

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bh87aqB-0KU

One part ska, one part reggae, Chemistry is the epitome of influence overriding a song: popping up around halfway through Arcade Fire‘s Everything Now, the track seems set to ruin any enjoyment that the listener may have been having up till this point with its stomach-churning mesh of influences.

There’s a line on one of the weakest cuts off the band’s new LP, though they’re not hard to come by, where Win Butler chimes about dancing “with your boyfriend all night long, tell him that you really, really love his song“: if the tune in mind happened to be Chemistry then I get the feeling the partner in question would be saying it through gritted teeth. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

9. G Eazy – Him & I (Ft. Halsey)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SA7AIQw-7Ms

Like a bargain bin (03) Bonnie & Clyde, Gregory Eazy, and Halsey have linked up on what is, in my opinion, one of the single worst songs released in 2017.

We’ve been absolutely blessed when it comes to quality music this year, artists like Charli XCX, Tove Lo, Dua Lipa, Carly Rae Jepsen and Sigrid especially keeping pop music interesting and catchy as fuck. Leave it to Halsey and G-Eazy to buck this trend. This is lazy pop-rap at it’s worst. An uninspired hook from Halsey, a sleep-inducing beat from whatever factory it was shat out of and, bluntly, G-Eazy cannot rap to save his life. He’s awful, and I cannot for the life of me fathom how he’s gotten as popular as he is. An utter, utter mystery.

If, for some weird reason, you want to listen to a pop star and a rapper collaborate, here’s a list of better songs than this: Kendrick Lamar & Rhianna – LOYALTY. Eminem and Dido – Stan. 2pac and Elton John – Ghetto Gospel. Katy Perry and Kanye West – ET. Francis and the Lights and Chance, The Rapper – May I Have This Dance?. Estelle and Kanye West – American Boy. I could go on, but I won’t because I imagine you get the idea.

In short, stop supporting G-Eazy because he’s bad and stop supporting Halsey because she’s trash. Toodle pip! – Jake Cordiner (@jjjjaketh)

8. Liam Payne – Strip That Down

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSW2M-BB1NE

Before one of you indie fucks hits out with the “well Liam Payne was in One Direction, of course his debut single is gonna suck“, I have two things to say to you: 1) Harry StylesSign Of The Times and 2) you’re sadly right about this tune being god awful.

With a beat that sounds like the regurgitated remains of Iggy Azalea’s Fancy, Strip That Down feels like it’s constantly trying too hard to be explicit and cool: Quavo is big right now? Let’s chuck him in. People remember me as the teen from that boy band? Let’s talk about how into sex I am! I love sex! I always tell the ladies I’m gonna bring the Payne!

The biggest offence of Strip Me Down is just how boring it is: Payne’s vocals, while not terrible, are so devoid of any charm or notable trait that you’ll probably find yourself drifting off throughout it, stripped down into your jammies. – LM

7. Liam Gallagher – Wall Of Glass

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdJc7-ZEuT0

Liam Gallagher‘s act is wearing a bit thin; middle-aged man takes pot shots at people & things, including his brother on Twitter and everyone laughs. Wall of Glass, the lead single from his roundly underwhelming solo effort, As You Were,  was wearing thin whilst it was going through the mixing desk.

Not even Greg Kurstin, wonder pop producer could shake this nightmare awake. One of the worst things about this track is the whiny lead guitar: lead guitar should scream, this groans. The lyrical theme leaves the ears wanting and the delivery sounds like an old Manc dad trying to sing Oasis after 15 pints of Carling.

Just because Liam Gallagher can, doesn’t mean he should; Beady Eye were wholesomely underwhelming, and As You Were was largely disappointing. If you’re going to do something like this, whole arse it, instead of half arsing it and letting your reputation build the hype. – Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

6. Kasabian – You’re In Love With A Psycho

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kimPUWSwxIs

Remember that unholy trio of Kasabian, Empire & West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum? Those three albums were chock full of choice tracks, and sure Velociraptor had its moments, 48:13 was… different, and by the time we got to For Crying Out Loud, Serge’s beans had been blown and he was gasping for air.

You’re In Love With a Psycho feels like a band trying to write a Kasabian song, and missing the mark. Further to the point, in 2017, where so many musicians have talked so openly about mental health issues, with several losing their lives as a result, are the lyrics wholly appropriate?

This song is representative of the whole album; there’s nothing overwhelmingly bad about it, but it’s wholesomely forgettable. Drunk you can take the wheel to songs like L.S.F and Fire, sober you is struggling to work out who took lead vocals on You’re In Love With a Psycho. – OB

5. The Chainsmokers & Coldplay – Something Just Like This

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FM7MFYoylVs

The epitome of shallow, vapid, soulless corporate pop concocted by the musical equivalent of those weird twenty-year-old guys studying photography in college who message sixteen-year-old girls stating they’re “fascinated by their minds lol xD”. The only hint that Coldplay actually features on the track is courtesy of the reliably beige Chris Martin, whose ham-fisted piano playing and whiny, strained vocals somehow never go out of fucking fashion, unlike the EDM drops and synthesisers that plague this smash hit that died a death back in 2014.

Listening to Something Just Like This is a bit like blow-torching your nipples on some form of incredibly powerful hallucinogenic drug – you think it’s a bit of harmless fun, but in reality, the experience is painful, unrewarding, and worrying for anybody around you. – Josh Adams (@jxshadams)

4. KSI – Creature

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkUu7GBuxkk

It’s the end of 2017 and KSI is still a thing, unfortunately. He is still insistent on making a name for himself a grime artist despite no one over the age of 14 asking for it. Making his big “comeback” with Creature, KSI claims he has “been doing a lot of learning” but whatever he learnt it wasn’t either how to write a decent verse or deliver it with any sincerity.

The lyrics range from unbelievably stupid to outright hypocritical such as his claim that his “only advice is to love and forgive” despite having proven himself multiple times this year to be insensitive towards mental health issues and publicly body shaming a fellow YouTuber.

His flow is choppy and awkward as always, so much so the only three or four lines he delivers well in the second verse he actually repeats, assumably to save himself any further embarrassment. Creature can be filed along with the myriads of other evidence that YouTubers should not assume themselves to be musicians. – Ethan Woodford (@human_dis4ster)

3. Jake Paul – Everyday Bro

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSlb1ezRqfA

A truly abysmal, laughable attempt at hip-hop. An abomination. To be fair, it’s hard to decide whether this entire track was conceived as some sort of joke – a Socratic self-aware parody of privileged white kids on the internet, perhaps. If so, the joke is very much on us.

Through an inexplicable series of events, it reached #3 on iTunes despite being written in a day, not to mention achieving widespread infamy for its obnoxious lyrics and its dull, uninspired beat. Jake Paul was no doubt laughing all the way to the bank, however – safe in the knowledge that unleashing this festering turd of a song would augment his already considerable paycheck (rumoured to be in the region of “10 with six zeros“).

Attempting to critically analyse the track’s content is a waste of time as most of the lyrics revolve around petty beef with fellow YouTubers, such as the equally insufferable PewDiePie, as well as boasting of their social media success. Some particularly cringe-inducing lines from the Team 10 arsenal includes the opening line of Jake’s first verse, “I Usain Bolt and run, catch me at game one”, and Tessa Brooks’ baffling diatribe about Alissa Violet: “I’m flyin’ like a drone / They buying like a loan”. Not to be outdone, Nick Crompton’s mercifully short-lived verse sees him rhyming “shitty” with “litty” and announces that “England is my city”.

Pitbull? Eat yer heart out. Utter shambles. – Kieran Cannon (@kiercannon)

2. Ed Sheeran – Galway Girl

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87gWaABqGYs

Not many things annoy me more than people who are not rappers, trying to rap. Which is why Galway Girl by Ed Sheeran has earned its rightful place on this list.

Amazingly, the lyrics manage to feel clunky and out of place, but also painfully predictable. The combination of folk music, cheesy Irish stereotypes and the cheerful beat, come together to create a song that everyone either seems to love or despise. Although Sheeran’s recent album was one of the highest selling of the year, Galway Girl is not only incredibly overplayed but also the most cringe-worthy song to come out of 2017.

Initially, I could handle it, but the constant hoard of drunk people on nights out attempting to rap along must come to an end.  – Isabella McHardy (@isabellamchardy)

1. Taylor Swift – Look What You Made Me Do

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tmd-ClpJxA

It will come as little surprise to anyone (who’s not called Josh Adams) that Taylor Swift’s comeback single Look What You Made Me Do has been chosen as blinkclyro’s worst track of 2017. Before this track’s release, it would be fair to say that Swift was an artist unlikely to win any personality contests, however, she largely kept her undesirable public persona out of her music, until the release of the lead single from reputation.

Look What You Made Me Do may be the pettiest track that someone of Swift’s stature has ever released, not so much referencing but revelling in some of her pettiest beefs, which everyone but Swift seems to have moved on from. Astonishingly, however, the lyrics aren’t the worst part of the track by a long shot. Swift abandoned her sugary pop landscape for a cheap, generic trap beat which she lands on top of like a monkey on ice – for parts of the track, her vocal delivery ventures into a form of rapping which can’t be described as any better than sickening.

After all this slating, we haven’t even got into the chorus yet: it literally consists of Swift speaking the track’s title monotonously with the cadence of I’m Too Sexy (For My Shirt). Yes, it’s that bad. Finally, if you can make it through that voicemail message without wanting to vomit everything you’ve ever eaten, you’re a stronger person than I’ll ever be. – Andrew Barr (@weeandreww)

Blinkclyro Hour Episode #3

In this week’s episode of the Blinkclyro Hour, I chat about Arcade Fire’s new album Everything Now, Bandcamp’s donation to trans charities and critically mixed or panned albums that I enjoy.

Track Listing:
Big Black – L Dopa
The Smiths – Still Ill
Charli XCX – Blame It On You
Everything Everything – Desire
Yung Lean – Hurt
Talking Heads – Psycho Killer

Album Review: Arcade Fire – Everything Now

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?

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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.

2/10

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GIG REVIEW: ARCADE FIRE @ CASTLEFIELD BOWL

Written by Becky Little (@sometimesboring)

Following the devastating attack on Manchester just over a month ago, there seems to be an unshakable feeling of solidarity among the crowds of Manchester gigs. Speaking from experience of both the recent Radiohead gig at Old Trafford Cricket Ground and the Canadian legends, Arcade Fire at Castlefield Bowl, it is clear that the Manchester music scene is alive and kicking as ever, not one to back down in times of adversity. It is truly awe-inspiring.

Being quite a newbie to Manchester venues, The Castlefield Bowl shocked me (in a good way) by how tiny it was! Arriving at around 6pm, an hour after doors, I was convinced that we wouldn’t get as good a spot as we’d hoped. How wrong I was! There was the typical small crowd of hardcore fans swarming towards the centre-barrier, and oddly the seating area was jam-packed, but our spot was perfect, for both Arcade Fire and their well-chosen support act, Beak.

On the topic of Beak, I think the frantically typed ‘Beak!!!!!!!!!!!!‘ in my phone’s notes says it all. Effortlessly cool but somewhat self-deprecating, the electronic three-piece really got the crowd going with their hazy and summery sound, with my gig partner and fellow contributor Harry (@radiohedge) describing them as being like an “indie version” of math rock giants Battles, with a slightly post-rocky edge. However, despite being an appropriate opener, it was noted that the songs they played almost fused into one, making them sound a little bit samey. Nevertheless, they got us brilliantly riled up for what was to come.

Before I go on, I feel as though I should point out that the new offerings from Montreal’s finest didn’t really get me going.

HOWEVER.

The opening notes of Everything Now, the eponymous single of their newly announced 5th album, shook the entire crowd and instantly got everybody grooving, dispelling any suggestions that they had lost their edge. Their sheer power on stage and incredible presence was resounding throughout their set, which was littered with tracks from across their discography. Rebellion (Lies) of their debut and the second song of their set, saw many a fan get on a set of shoulders. You could tell by the huge smiles on the faces of  Win Butler and his brother Will that they were inspired by how energetic and receptive the crowd was, especially after such hardships that the city has faced.

Beautiful moments cropped up during the gig, with Win dedicating iconic ballad The Suburbs to “all the daughters and little girls” and ending their set beautifully with Neon Bible, unexpectedly followed by a heart-wrenching rendition of Joy Division‘s Love Will Tear Us Apart, a moving tribute to an incredible place. Also, you can watch the crowd sing the intro to Wake Up in unison (disclaimer: you will get goosebumps).

Overall, Arcade Fire undoubtedly put on one of the best shows I have ever seen. I was left completely speechless (and if anyone knows me well enough, it was mainly because I finally saw Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) live).

What wasn’t as incredible, however, was the quality of the draught Strongbow Dark Fruits available at bar. C’mon Castlefield Bowl!

10/10


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WORST 2 BEST: Arcade Fire

By Gemma Matthews (@screamethereal)

Our fave French-Canadian symposium Arcade Fire are releasing their fifth studio album in just over a month’s time. From what we’ve heard so far, this could be an interesting one. With singles Everything Now and Creature Comfort recently released in anticipation of the new record, there seems to be a bit of a new sound emerging – something cleaner, perhaps, with bigger swings between upbeat, celebratory pop and hazy, dirty grunge. Could this have something to do with a change in record label? Merge have released the band’s first four LPs, but Columbia have now got a foot in the door and will be releasing Everything Now on July 28th. It’s all speculative, and it’s all to play for, but for now we thought we’d look back at the beautiful, the bold and the downright bizarre moments of the band’s discography so far.

4. Reflektor

In at number four, Reflektor. The band’s fourth album was released in 2013, and honestly? It was nice. Pleasant with a good flow, but unmoving. Maybe this was a sign that a change in direction was needed, and there’s every chance we’ll see that brought around with the new label’s take on things. As it stands, though, Reflektor was brought out in good faith and under the reliable veil that the band had enough of a fanbase from the first three records to make up the numbers. This record seems to take its audience for granted and as such it loses out on its chance at a spark, which is a shame.

3. Neon Bible

Third place? Neon Bible. NB is a fantastic album and, to be honest, maybe third place is unfair. The record is the moody teenager of the collection so far, and is a personal favourite. A technically sound piece of work with attitude in passive aggressive bucketloads, Neon Bible brings the darkness. And, God, do I love it. That said, the album feels relatively small compared to what comes next for the band, and for that reason it takes third. (Small does not always equal a negative, you understand. Just in this case, it is a major contributor to the ranking. All’s fair in love and French-Canadian indie music, right?)

FULL REVIEW HERE

2. Funeral

Second place goes to Funeral. This was the band’s first LP, and a first impression for a lot of people who have since become big fans, watching the band grow from album one until now. It has a sound which now seems very classically Arcade Fire, juxtaposed with joy and what seemed at first bizarre sounds from the ether which hadn’t yet made their way into mainstream chart music. A celebration of joy and flames, and a starting point for something bigger.

FULL REVIEW HERE

1. The Surburbs

And of course, The Suburbs claims first prize. An absolutely excellent album bringing out that classic Arcade Fire sound but on a massive scale. If ever there was an album I wanted to swim in, it’s this one. The album’s lyrical content is inspired by band members Win and William Butler’s upbringing in The Woodlands, Texas, a suburb of Houston and this, mixed with beautiful, dissonant clangy noise, allowed the band to shine in a whole new way. There’s a reason why the album appears at the top of lists like this: maybe one day we’ll go into more detail about why it deserve that position. 

So there you have it. Well, almost – the absolute worst? Charging fifty five fucking quid for a show in a shitey wee venue. Corn Exchange, we’re looking at you. Wankers.


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Track Review: Arcade Fire – Everything Now

By Kieran Cannon (@kiercannon)

Throughout this week, Arcade Fire have been preparing us for something big. Following reports of new material being debuted at a secret show in Montreal earlier in the month, proceedings kicked off when it was revealed that the band will be releasing their next album under Columbia Records and that copies of the new single will be on sale in 12″ vinyl at Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona.

Following the recent trend of entertaining music fans with mysterious clues on social media, an obscure Arcade Fire Twitter account disguised as a Russian spambot began sharing information about the single, entitled Everything Now, before linking to a now-deleted YouTube video containing an excerpt of the music. Not long after, the band unveiled their new song in its entirety along with the accompanying video depicting an eerie scene where the band members don matching grey overalls and perform amidst post-apocalyptic surroundings, the slogan ‘Everything Now’ appearing ominously on signs and billboards.

The music itself, however, could not be further apart from this. Beginning with sweeping piano and strings, the drums kick in with a distinctively 80s disco groove in what feels like a lighter, cheerier evolution of the distorted dance-rock their 2013 album Reflektor delivered. Comparisons with ABBA are, of course, inevitable – listeners could be forgiven for mistaking this for a lost B-side off Arrival; however, Win Butler manages to channel the Swedish pop stars’ ability to conceal heavy subject matters behind upbeat melodies to great effect. Dealing with issues such as consumerism and instant gratification, Butler decries the ease with which people can consume mass media, singing, “Every inch of space in your head / Is filled up with the things that you read / I guess you’ve got everything now“.

With their latest release, the Canadian indie rock group have produced a summer anthem and an undeniably catchy one at that. While lyrically thought-provoking, musically it fails to reach the creative heights of their stand-out efforts such as The Suburbs. Honorable mentions to the pan flute riff sampled from The Coffee Cola Song, though – only Arcade Fire could pull that off convincingly.

7/10


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