|Year of release
Today Arcade Fire released their fifth album Everything Now. This Canadian band was formed around 2001 and have never released something mediocre or bad. Does the new album change that?
Arcade Fire until now
On September 16th, 2005, I bought the debut album by Arcade Fire, Funeral, just after I saw live recordings of their performance at the Dutch Lowlands festival.
Some record! One of the few albums, which doesn’t contain one lesser song. At the time I still travelled to and from work by car. The cd never left the player in my car for months on end (until LCD Soundsystem released their debut, but that’s another story ).
The album hit a chord. It appeared that they had released an EP prior to their debut (called Arcade Fire), which I bought midway through 2006.
On March 2nd, 2007, the successor Neon Bible was released in The Netherlands. Again: some record! On November 13th, 2007, I saw them live for the first time. Fantastic show.
July 30th, 2010, I bought the third album The Suburbs. I locked myself in my loft to listen to it (using headphones). Unbelievable but true: strike three! What a band! Every time different, yet unmistakeably Arcade Fire and very very good. Once again to the show, once again fantastic.
When in 2013 it became clear that Arcade Fire was to work togther with LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy for the upcoming album. I was hyped. When David Bowie guested on the album’s titlesong, all signs pointed to the best album of all time was about to be released. Despite the fact that Reflektor is truly remarkable, it doesn’t click (for me). It’s not really for me, even though the album contains some favorite songs. I missed the infamous concert at Dutch Pinkpop festival in 2011, because I had tickets to the show the following day. The band played at the Sportpaleis, Antwerp, Belgium and the show was very impressive.
I Give You Power
On January 19th, 2017, new music by Arcade Fire was released. Their first since quite some time. The song I Give You Power. A cooperation with Mavis Staples.
The day of the release was chosen carefully: the day after, the inauguration of Donald Trump as President was about to take place. The message to the tweet, coming with the single’s release, was: “It’s never more important that we stick together and take care of each other”. The single’s revenues were donated to the American Civil Liberties Union. It’s no secret that Arcade Fire’s Win Butler (the prime composer and bandleader) hates Donald Trump wholeheartedly.
Some hints were made public towards a new album, that, based on I Give You Power, would be more electronic than its predecessors.
Prior to the album’s release
Before the album was released, the songs Everything Now (June 1st), Creature Comfort (June 16th), Signs Of Life (June 30th) and Electric Blue (July 13th) were released as singles. And the band went on (a short) tour: Infinite Content. They mostly played at festivals, among which the Dutch Best Kept Secret Festival. It was a phenomenal show, the festival’s highlight and one of the highlights of the year. The new songs, that were released at the time, fit the set and Arcade Fire perfectly.
Reason enough to long for the new album. But, as is often the case, critics reacted lukewarm. Many reviewers had heard the album beforehand. Every critic’s darling has to be taken down at a certain point in time, and that point seemed/seems to have been reached for Arcade Fire. The tour, however, was undeniably good, even critics couldn’t get around that. The band themselves seemed to be prepared and, jokingly, published their own, critical, review of the album on the website stereoyum.com titled Premature Premature Evaluation. The bottom-line of the “review” was that the album could not be reviewed yet, but the new album was (much) worse than the albums that came before. Was Arcade Fire covering themselves or was it really what was expected of the critics, because they only want more of the same thing?
Today the album became available in The Netherlands. I am very pleased with it. I like the album, a lot. It’s primarily a dance album, but it also conatins reggae, rock and country. The album is co-produced by Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter, Pulp’s Steve Mackey, Portishead’s Geoff Barrow and Markus Dravs (who also co-produced earlier Arcade Fire albums).
It all starts off perfectly. Everything Now is a great song. It entails consumerism: I Need It, I Want It. I Can’t Live Without. Sign Of Life is also great. Creature Comfort has a heavy (under)tone. Its subject is also heavy: too many choices, too much unhappiness: “God, make me famous. If you can’t, just make it painless”.
The next two songs are somewhat rooted in reggae. Peter Pan doesn’t work for me, at all. When Chemistry starts, it is all a bit silly, but then the song morphs into a truly great song. Rock intermezzo’s and funky horns!
Infinite Content and Infinite_Content are the same song. The first is a heavy rocker (similar to The Suburbs‘ Month Of May). The second is a country song. Both songs are funny, but no highlights.
Electric Blue is the (mandatory) Regine Chassagne song, that is placed on every Arcade Fire album. It took some time adjusting to the extremely high pitched voice, but it’s great song. Is it just as good as Sprawl II? I was inclined to say “No”, but it turns out this song is a diamond in the rough: I’m less sure now. Good God Damn is about (fake) friendships. Also a great song, with a delicious bassline.
Put Your Money On Me contains the lyrics “Or tuck me into bed, and wake me when I’m dead”. A beautiful song. Already a favorite.
We Don’t Deserve Love is a typical moving song the way only Arcade Fire can make. And finally Everything Now (Continued) turns into a surpise, just by being beautiful and (way) too short.
All songs by Arcade Fire
- Everything_Now (Continued)
- Everything Now
- Signs Of Life
- Creature Comfort
- Peter Pan
- Infinite Content
- Electric Blue
- Good God Damn
- Put Your Money On Me
- We Don’t Deserve Love
- Everything Now (Continued)
How does the album fit within Arcade Fire’s body of work? Is it their best? No, that title still goes to Funeral. Is it their worst? No.
I am very happy with Everything Now. Arcade Fire has, once again, made a number of classic songs, which is great for a band, which exists more than 15 years. The will to innovate remains and gets executed. I deeply admire them for it and do recommend this album to anyone.