Top critical review
Arcade Fire - All In On Dance Grooves
August 5, 2017
Arcade Fire began to change their sound on 2013's "Reflektor" - a double-album that contained only a few memorable songs. The title track, as well as 'We Exist', 'Afterlife' and the very lively 'Here Comes the Night Time' put the emphasis on rhythm and dance beats, moving away from the anthemic and orchestrated sound that had defined their first three records - including 2010's Grammy winner "The Suburbs" (Album of the Year).
With the uneven "Everything Now", Arcade Fire goes all in on dance music. Not modern dance music though - synth-pop sounds from the '80s, funk and disco from the '70s are the main influences here. It's easily Arcade Fire's most listenable and accessible album to date.
The album's first few tracks are its strongest. 'Creature Comfort' with it's pulsing synthesizers and skittering percussion track is the album's highlight. Band leader Win Butler comments on today's youth who are obsessed with being famous - so much so that suicide becomes an option: "God make me famous, if you can't just make it painless." Butler even references the band's debut album 'Funeral' in the lyric: "She came so close. Filled up the bathtub and put on our first record." The big build-up and explosive release at the peak of the song is the true essence of what Arcade Fire is about. It's a great moment.
'Signs of Life', with its hand-clap intro, killer funk bass-line and rap/sung verses, is a solid tune, with Win Butler chastising apathetic, club-going "cool kids, stuck in the past" who wait for something to happen without risking a contribution to today's world.
Title track 'Everything Now' rails against on-line consumers and the infinite content available on the web: "Every inch of space in my heart is filled with something I'll never start.", sings Butler. The pessimistic lyrics are countered by uplifting music and a sparkling, ABBA-like piano refrain.
The two closing tracks "Put Your Money on Me" and "We Don't Deserve Love" are solid but flawed tunes. The former gets good traction from a walking bass synth hook that moves in time with the chorus vocal. However, some awkward lyrics work against it. The latter, a lengthy ballad driven by a crisp drum-machine and woozy steel-guitar, is probably the most personal song on the album. Win adds some nice falsetto vocals but his delivery of the coda is somewhat tuneless.
Critics have not been kind to this record, dismissing it as their least substantial album. Anyone looking for the grand anthemic Arcade Fire of old will be disappointed in this new direction.
"Everything Now" seems to be a compromise between the band's ideals and the entrenched pop sounds of today. It's likely to increase their fan-base, but whether Arcade Fire can emerge with their artistic credibility intact remains to be seen.