By Jack Sharkey, October 16, 2017

 

Front to Back Album Review: Arcade Fire - Everything Now

  • Released: July 28, 2017
  • Label: Sonovox / Columbia
  • Producers: Arcade Fire, Thomas Bangalter, Geoff Barrow, Markus Dravs, Steve Mackey

 

2.5 Play Buttons

Two and a half out of Five Play Buttons

 

 

What’s interesting about this set – Arcade Fire’s first release in four years – is that you really can’t do anything else while you’re listening to it. Until you've gotten familiar with it, this is not an album for multi-tasking. At first, because of the soundscapes, textures and lyrical content, most of your brain’s processing power is taken up trying to figure out what you’re listening to and whether you like it or not. You can’t check your Facebook account, or send a Snapchat while trying to understand just exactly what the message of the album is. Which, incidentally, is part of the message of the album.

 

That message is made perfectly clear in the opening forty-five seconds which actually made me angry and frustrated until the title track kicked in inArcade Fire - Everything Now earnest and then it became perfectly clear – Everything Now is about what life is like today – good or bad. Everything Now is the artistic expression of life in 2017, there is no respite from information, there is no break from the world, but we’re learning to handle it. Recalling Eighties Brit-pop heroes Depeche Mode, ABC and Pet Shop Boys, as a dance track it’s undeniable, but as a commentary on life today it’s profound and meaningful. That sentiment is repeated in the cleverly placed Infinite Content and Infinite_Content tracks, the former being a punk rave-up that would make early Clash and the Sex Pistols fans proud, with the latter being the intellectual B-Side in the form of a prairie shuffle. Same message, two different ways to interpret it.

 

Creature Comfort is an absolute condemnation of the world we have built for ourselves and it is as bleak as it should be, but there are a couple of tracks that don’t hold up well against the best material in the set. At times the weaker tracks come off as not very well thought out or explored from a musical and melodic point of view, but on the whole, it’s a record worth checking out.   

 

Stylistically, you’re taken on a journey from the punk clubs and discotheques of New York City in the late 1970s to the bombast and unexpected beauty of 1980s Brit-synth-pop, all with a mid-twenty-teens view of the world in all its flaw and beauty. The production is somewhat flat and compressed, allowing the moments of light and shade to stand out as a brief break from all of that input, but beware that at a decent volume this could be a very fatiguing album to listen to. Another artistic comment on the state of our digital world today?

 

Listened via Spotify streaming on LS50W.