It has been four years since the last Arcade Fire album “Reflektor” and I’ve become surprised how many people did not like this album. Certainly, it would be difficult to followup their Grammy winner, “The Suburbs” but I felt “Reflektor” had some great lyrical ideas and the grooves were dripping with James Murphy’s polyrhymic mayhem. Is it as good as “The Suburbs?” Definately not, there are some holes but overall it had a great string of songs halfway through the first side:
“Here Comes The Night Time” -> “Normal Person” -> “You Already Know” -> “Joan of Arc”
Sure, the second half of “Reflektor” is a pretty forgetful experience but I think the musical direction and lyrical focus was going to exciting places that I wanted them to continue to explore.
So, how will “Everything Now” hope to improve upon previous albums? First, we experienced a one off single with Mavis Staples at the beginning of this year (Yeah you forgot it already didn’t you!), a disjointed marketing campaign, and intriguing collaborations with Thomas Bangalter of the electronic-house duo Daft Punk and Pulp bassist Steve Mackey. It’s almost as though this album were destined to flop with this much hype and sadly I have to say I feel it did. Even the current single “Everything Now” feels forced and artificial, making its five minute track time unbearable.
Lyrically the focus continues where the last album left off, centering on our reliance on technology, our diminishing human interactions, and personal daily struggles but the lyrics fall short on providing clarity and solutions to these challenges of modern life. Creature Comfort’s lyrics standout as a example of this aimless wondering they seem stuck in throughout the album. It’s one thing to point out the flaws in our modern Internet culture but how do we move forward without sounding like the old man asking the millennials to “get off my lawn.” It’s not contributing to the discussion in any productive way.
Sure, I am disappointed with “Everything Now” but continually producing new & superior material as a band is always challenging, especially after the success they saw with “The Suburbs.” I think the best thing for Arcade Fire to focus on next is a back to basics, simple album devoid of a concept. Release it quickly, without much fanfare and let the music be the conversation not a convoluted marketing campaign about the shortcomings of Internet culture and mobile phones.