Is Arcade Fire’s “Everything Now” self-indulgent on purpose?
It’s been interesting following the saga of the rollout of Arcade Fire’s new LP, aptly titled Everything Now. An ad campaign lampooning capitalism (ironic, given how much a band of Arcade Fire’s size and stature benefits from capitalism), a review satirizing Stereogum’s Premature Evaluation review series, and more.
Now, you may have read the title and be thinking to yourself “Come on, Ryan. I thought this was supposed to be a blog free from negativity.” You’re right. I don’t like painting a negative picture of bands for the sake of doing so. But we’re also here to start conversation. And, before I go any further – I’ll state on record that I quite enjoy many of the songs on Everything Now.
I’m a guy that likes epic sounding vibey music. Are you really that surprised?
So, what songs do I like? Well, if you’ve read the blog earlier this summer you probably saw me refer to the title track as one of the song’s of the summer. I think that’s true, still. When I look back on this year I’ll definitely think of that song. The melody is really memorable and I dig the recorder hook at the end of the chorus. “Signs of Life” is an earworm that could have fit easily on Reflektor. “Creature Comfort” is, erm, and even bigger earworm that is structured to be uniquely catchy without feeling overly indulgent. It puts a distinctly “Arcade Fire” spin on synth pop. With all the generic synth pop out there I can appreciate the effort to take a genre and make it your own. “Electric Blue” is another highlight, in which Regine takes the lead in singing and gives us what could be construed as an imitation of Passion Pit or MGMT. Definitely reminiscent of those bands, but an enjoyable and not a cheap impression.
So, what’s up with the title of this review? Well, when you look at all the songs in context of today’s political environment, the musical trends rampant in the industry, it seems like the band went for something that is within the confines of their “brand”, but is also easily digestible. Easily digestible music? Following a trend? Pandering to the lowest common denominator of what makes their music distinct from others? They’re doing all of that.
It seems as if Everything Now exists to be some sort of meta-commentary on the state of the entertainment industry at this present moment in time. When you look at their ad campaign, and the mere fact that derivatives of their album brand-names “Everything Now” and “Infinite Content” make up almost half the track-list, that ought to make you think for a second. My initial reaction was to say that after four years that kind of track list was lazy, but I have a feeling that would just be playing into their game.