“Everything Now” Arcade Fire
Arcade Fire is back in advance of an upcoming stadium tour with its fifth studio album, a polarizing collection of danceable synth pop-rock. Some critics love it. Others absolutely hate it. On balance, it’s probably fair to say that it’s a bit uneven — with Win Butler’s willingness to push the limits resulting in some excesses that come off as smug or arrogant, when they were intended to be inspired and deep. But there’s a lot to like in this 13-song collection — with some outstanding arrangements and lyrics that examine meaningful issues such as the technological overload we all experience and the societal detachment that this can lead to. As with past Arcade Fire albums, this is rock-art on a grand scale — and the mixed reception shows everyone thinks he/she is a critic. DJs, please note — Many of the songs on the album segue into one another, so you may want to fade out a track near the end to ensure the song isn’t clipped before you start your next one.
Recommended: 14 (FCC clean edit of #2), 4, 3, 12, 15 (FCC clean version of #9), 10, 11. FCCs on 2 and 9.
1. (0:46) Everything_Now (continued) — Swirling, airy warm-up that has Win Butler stepping off into the blackness of a blank canvas.
2. (5:03) Everything Now — Abba-like disco explodes with shimmering golden images. Big, bold piano. Lyrics ponder the effects of information overload in our constantly connected world. Pygmy flute solo by Afropop artist, Patrick Bebey. FCC: shit. (Play #14 – FCC edit) ****
3. (4:37) Signs of Life — Close cousin to disco sound — backbeat soul style was known as The Sound of Philadelphia (TSOP) in the 1970s. ***
4. (4:44) Creature Comfort — Pulsing, danceable strut with lyrics that confront the confusion and dangers some young people face in the glare of the social media spotlight. Famous or infamous? ****
5. (2:49) Peter Pan — Synth-infused reggae. Dirty synth bass line, chime-y electric piano and lots of interesting rhythm instruments.
6. (3:38) Chemistry — Jamaican ska rhythm. Simple pop chorus with handclaps and horns.
7. (1:37) Infinite Content — First of two message-heavy intermezzos. Lyrics shout “Infinite content! Infinite content! We’re infinitely content” over garage-punk music. Segues into track #7.
8. (1:42) Infinite_Content — Leisurely country-tinged version of the above.
9. (4:02) Electric Blue — Régine Chassagne on the lead vocals. Dreamy synth-pop with sparkly effects. FCC: shit. (Play #15 – FCC clean) ***
10. (3:35) Good God Damn— Rock with a Stones-like or Bowie-like swagger. Funky bass line and edgy guitar stingers. More word play: “Maybe there’s a good God, damn!” ***
11. (5:53) Put your Money on Me — More disco pop with a busy bass line and full synth orchestration that extends into synth-pop epic. **
12. (6:29) We Don’t Deserve Love — Off-center, flowing ballad that explores the detachment so many people feel. Bell-like synth progressions and rich harmonies. Win Butler’s vocals are in falsetto at the end. ***
13. (2:22) Everything Now (continued) — Reprise of “Everything Now” opener. Like an album on infinite repeat. Soft and atmospheric.
14. (4:44) Everything Now (Radio Edit) — Radio-friendly edit of #2. ****
15. (4:06) Electric Blue [Clean] — Radio-clean version of #9. ***