Not many bands promote a forthcoming album by publishing a fake review which anticipates
the critical reception they’ll receive.
Arcade Fire, however, have always been built on diosyncrasies and peculiarities, whether that be in their bizarre physical appearance during
concerts or undertaking of multiple instruments. Here, with their assault on modern
consumerism, namely by creating the fictional Everything Now Corporation (selling
‘Creature Comfort’ cereal and ice cream), they have returned with an album which is held
back by their concept.
A continuation of the more electronic sound on their fourth album, 2013’s Reflektor, this new
release finds the Montreal-based sextet fully embracing their dance and disco influences,
eschewing the blend of indie and art rock that could be found on their first three albums.
From the outset it’s markedly different, with the title track’s spritely keyboard hook being
reminiscent of ABBA, resulting in one of the jovial songs in the band’s catalogue.
This influence is heard even more clearly on ‘Put Your Money On Me’, with a nice harmonic shift
being an outlier in an album that is beset by poor lyrics and uninspiring vocal melodies.
‘Electric Blue’ plays like a lesser version of ‘Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)’, the
penultimate track from the Grammy award-winning The Suburbs, with Regine Chassagne
attempting a falsetto so high pitched it’s difficult to make out the lyrics. It spoils a song that
features some of the more interesting instrumentals on the piece, with the wonky synths and
crisp beat acting somewhat as a recovery point from a truly terrible middle section.
It’s hard to imagine there’ll be a worse song all year than ‘Chemistry’, an awful mix of ska-
style trumpets and classic rock guitar strokes, with the lyrics “Dance with your boyfriend all
night long/tell him you really really love his song” taking the track into unintentional parody
territory. ‘Peter Pan’ also succumbs to this fate, Butler delivering the laughable lyrics “Be my
Wendy, I’ll be your Peter Pan/Come on baby, take my hand” to an equally terrible
composition, full of cheesy piano notes, fuzzy and irregular drum beats and irritating synth
‘Infinite Content’, a two-parter that features the repetition of the line “infinite content/infinite
content/we’re infinitely content”, is the most forthright example of their satirical leanings,
with the intentionally cringeworthy background music showing the band has knowingly made
a bad song, but when it’s surrounded by unintentionally poor material, it makes you wonder
if the song serves any purpose.
The replication of lyrics manifests itself more successfully on ‘Signs of Life’; “looking for
signs of life/looking for signs every night/but there’s no signs of life/so we do it again”. This
Talking Heads-sounding song, with its groovy bassline and funky horn section, could easily
soundtrack a 1970s blaxploitation film, being a rare instance of the band fully embracing both
the lyrical and musical playfulness of the genre.
Rather than standing out from a glut of bands that harken back to the past for new inspiration,
the band’s use of hackneyed instrumentals and painfully trite lyrics has meant that Everything
Now has succumbed to the very thing Arcade Fire were making a mockery out of –