Arcade Fire Everything Now
Arcade Fire wisely sets up its new album and its best song—the title track—with a gauzy, anticipatory introduction. That piece more or less repeats at album’s end and connects with the almost identical intro once the album returns to the beginning, rendering Everything Now a never-ending cycle. A great trick for a great album, which this is decidedly not.
The Montreal sextet’s fifth longplayer is also its first dud, delivered to the world after a maddening promotional campaign that went into satire overload. Everything Now is the band’s statement on consumerism, both material and digital, and the increasing emptiness of our current culture, but its message is made hollow by dissatisfying songs that lack cohesion and fail to deliver the instrumental and emotional gusto on which Arcade Fire established itself.
Two songs manage to resonate nonetheless: the title track and the midtempo “Put Your Money on Me,” both alluring ABBA homages aided by Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter. But they sit at opposite ends of the album, which results in a giant sagging middle section. “Signs of Life” is a flimsy funk number that clumsily apes Blondie. “Peter Pan” and “Chemistry” shoehorn in the Jamaican and Haitian musical touchstones used to more purposeful and less awkward effect on 2013’s Reflektor. And weakening the whole effort is frontman Win Butler’s flat, lifeless vocals and shallow lyricism. As irony would have it, Everything Now sounds as vacuous as the very culture it critiques.