Album Review by Jared Lynch
While the music of Arcade Fire’s newest release Everything Now is tightly woven, and full of nuances in the instrumentation and production, it lacks the substance of previous albums. The feeling of the album falls a bit flat and unimaginative with the lyrics. The band has a knack of picking at the seams of society, calling into light the decayed state of the ‘American dream’ with the decrepit landscape of 2010’s The Suburbs, followed by 2013’s Reflektor, which looked at the hollowness of connectivity in the modern world of social media. Everything Now flatly reports on the effects of our continuous bombardment of “infinite content,” which leaves us oversaturated and numb. It cyclically searches in the same used up places for meaning and substance to add to our lives.
The title track, “Everything Now," pushes out with a disco-fueled, ABBA-esque core, presenting a landscape where “every inch of space in your head is filled up with the words that you’ve read.” This song does well to ground the central hub of the album, in which our society is oversaturated with all of the content that we’ve consumed. This is propagated later with the lackluster rocker/surf gaze “Infinite Content,” which simply repeats “Infinite content. We’re infinitely content,” for four minutes without presenting the idea progressively enough to warrant its place on the record, except maybe to give a name to their most recent tour. The album is plagued with repetition, as displayed in these above-mentioned tracks. While its chorus is catchy, “Everything Now” doesn’t earn the five-minute bill, as the latter third of the song is the chorus without progression. Thematically, this repetition would work with the “Infinite Content,” but it feels more like filler content.
Other songs on the album explore the effects of this oversaturation. In “Signs of Life,” youth consistently fall into the same cyclical patterns of searching for the pulse of life by getting fucked up and waiting in line for the places where they’re looking for substance. Similar to “Everything Now,” this song falls into the cyclical repetition of the chorus, but it maintains an interesting groove throughout. The first few bars of “Creature Comfort” promised the potential of being a dirtier, grittier sounding Kavinsky, but quickly dissipated into an unexpectedly happy tune. While still being one of the stronger songs on the album, it had the potential to break into new territory for the band, but shied away, choosing instead to propagate something more familiar and upbeat. While this song was intended to comment on how easy it is to want to fuck off from life because we’re constantly told the flaws we should feel ashamed of, it instead sounds as though its written from the perspective of someone who feels substantiated in life, and removed from those lives.
The album finishes strong with the (again) ABBA-esque “Put Your Money On Me,” which is one of the more mature tracks, and grooves along with Win Butler’s falsetto leading the chorus. This is followed by “We Don’t Deserve Love,” where the listener finds the speaker at the comedown of consumption. He’s finished. He doesn’t want to talk. He doesn’t want to touch. He doesn’t “even want to watch TV.” This song reflects that if we’re unable to see the beauty in life, it’s best to burn it down and start again from the ashes. Rather, the speaker of the song asks that we bring the ashes to him without providing any reason why we should. Still, it’s a fitting ending.
The music is a highpoint on the album. It’s tightly composed, performed, and produced, presenting a cohesive, well-constructed album. While there are points in several songs: “Everything Now,” “Creature Comfort,” and “Peter Pan” where the song becomes repetitive, the music is still engaging and incredibly danceable. While the lyrics of “Chemistry” are flat, cliché bouts of rhymes and physical attraction (or perceived physical attraction) where the dubby, seventies glam rock-esque of the music is interesting enough, and adds to the disco fueled jam of Reflektor. However, with the flat, reserved lyrics there isn’t much content to be found within Everything Now. It simply reports the effects of infinite content on our society without offering any remediation. Even with this flatness, the songs are still catchy.
Favorite Tracks: "Creature Comfort," "Electric Blue," "Put Your Money On Me," "We Don’t Deserve Love"