By Christian Zimonick, Staff Writer
On “Creature Comfort,” Arcade Fire’s Win Butler sings that “some boys hate themselves … some girls hate their bodies.” Unfortunately, fans of their legendary debut album, Funeral (2004), are probably going to hate the newest release from Arcade Fire: Everything Now, out via Sonovox and Columbia.
Since their debut, Arcade Fire have been cranking out slightly overproduced records every three years or so. While their last three releases have been, if not incredible, quite listenable, Everything Now fails to accomplish even this feat. Arcade Fire largely abandoned their signature sound with Reflektor (2013), latching onto electronic bleeps and bloops en lieu of traditional rock instrumentation, but the band really goes off the deep end here. Everything Now employs a whole spectrum of boring electronic disco sounds, from big, meaty kick drums to clean, poppy synths that lurk behind almost every track. The brass section, when present, is tacky, as is the background singing.
The title track is probably the high point of the album, with a nice groove and piano melody. The lyrics are pretty close to classic Arcade Fire in terms of quality: “Every inch of sky’s got a star/ Every inch of skin’s got a scar/ I guess that you’ve got everything now.” It’s far from a perfect track, however; the pan flute that appears during the first chorus sounds completely out of place, the backup singers are especially tacky and even the melody starts to grate after a few minutes. “We Don’t Deserve Love” has potential in its interesting lyrics (perhaps about a depressed lover?), but the song lacks energy and goes nowhere in its 6:29 runtime.
On the topic of backup singers ― why are they on almost every single song? Actually, backup vocals from band member Régine Chassagne is a common feature of Arcade Fire’s music, but it’s never been used so heavily, and never has it sounded so cheesy as it does here. Paired with all the dance rhythms and funky instruments, it only amplifies how dated and unoriginal Everything Now manages to sound.
“Infinite Content” and its stoned cousin “Infinite_Content” are the lowest points of the album. The former is particularly bad. “Infinite content/ Infinite content/ We’re infinitely content,” proclaims lead singer Win Butler to the drone of a kick drum and snare. In a way, this is a song that keeps on giving ― giving the words “Infinite content” ad nauseum, that is. And, as if to show listeners how little these lyrics mean, and how they fit pretty much any sonic mood (because they evoke no feelings whatsoever), Arcade Fire allows you to experience them again, but this time backed by a completely different set of acoustic sounds on “Infinite_Content.”
Thematically, Everything Now treads ancient ground. It seems like every multi-platinum artist these days feels the need to remind the world that phones and mass consumerism are ruining the world. If it hasn’t been pounded into the head of everyone who consumes any type of media, then Arcade Fire is here to remind them: Your life is a meaningless task of consumption and procrastination, “every room in [your] house is filled with shit [you] couldn’t live without … every inch of space in [your] heart is filled with something [you’ll] never start.” It’s not that these aren’t valid concerns, but Arcade Fire approaches them without a hint of originality. It’s also a little ironic to their cause the way they capitalize on their extreme popularity, selling exclusive Arcade Fire fidget spinners for $110. While this could be in protest to blind consumerism, one has to wonder if they’ll be keeping the profits of the promotion. If anyone reading this wants to beat consumerism, here’s where I suggest you start: Don’t buy this album.