Arcade Fire – Everything Now Review 


‘Everything Now’ is the fifth studio album by Canadian group Arcade Fire. The album is rather more experimental than their last outing, however that does not necessarily mean that they all land. A friend recently described this to me as a “marmite” album, you either like it or you don’t. Maybe I’m odd, but that wasn’t my experience with Arcade Fire’s most recent album, with it coming across to me as an awkwardly average outing by the band, with only a few songs on the album actually being of any interest.​Firstly, let’s talk positives. Both ‘Infinite Content’ and the follow-up ‘Infinite_Content’ are both good outings, with them contrasting each other well, whilst being about the exact same thing. ‘Infinite Content’ is one of the heavier songs on the album, providing thrashing guitars and genuine “head-banging” tunes. It provides a good addition to the dance album that the band appeared to be going for, having a very different sound to songs like of ‘Everything Now’. Contrastingly ‘Infinite_Content’ is a much slower tune, and whilst not being one that you can dance to, it works really well in context. The song lyrics “All your money is already spent on infinite content” fits perfectly with the tune, which to me sounds like the sort of music you would hear inside a shopping mall; calm and upbeat. Out of the singles, both ‘Electric Blue’ and ‘Creature Comfort’ are both fine musical additions. ‘Electric Blue’ is a well produced, quite funky track with an appropriate level of synths that certainly add to the melodic beat. The vocals too are particularly noteworthy, with a falsetto being deployed masterfully in this song. ‘Creature Comfort’ similarly deploys synths brilliantly, creating an 80s-style dance track that is surely enjoyable.

​However, the positives in this album are slightly overshadowed by the negatives. Whilst there are good songs on the album, this album also contains possibly one of the worst songs I have heard this year. ‘Chemistry’ is a basic and lazy addition to the album, it is only memorable by the fact that it is quite dire. The song has a basic marching beat in the background over lyrics sang with little experimentation. The bland nature of the song may work well if the song were a short melody in the album, but at 3:38, it is almost inexcusable. Whilst the album as a whole is experimental, with both hits and misses, it feels like ‘Chemistry’ was produced with next to no effort, which is a shame as we know that Arcade Fire can do so much better than this. ‘Good God Damn’ is alright, but has very little to grip you for an extra listen. Which brings me onto another issue with the album, when it comes at the end, the latter songs on the album are completely forgettable after listening. Both ‘We Don’t Deserve Love’ and ‘Put Your Money On Me’ are instantly forgettable, both have very low-key beats that do not remain with the listener afterwards. And we have seen much better perfomances when it comes to vocals.

​’Everything Now’ does have some stand-out examples of why the experimentalism here was not a waste. There are some songs on the album that are definitely worth adding to your playlist. However, a lot of the album is disappointing. When the band has gone out to create someting a bit more experimental and dance-worthy, it is almost unforgivable just how dull some of the music is. Hardly any of it will be played in your local bar or nightclub, I even doubt there will be many people tapping their foot in the comfort of their own home. What doesn’t help is that a lot of the album is “just alright.” But there is gold to be found here, just not a lot of it.

Arcade Fire – Everything Now – 5/10

Matthew Johnston

Single Review – Arcade Fire – Signs of Life 

Whether Arcade Fire find themselves rooted in rousing rock or pushing into newer, more mechanical material, they never seem to reduce the theatricality. New single Signs of Life dabbles in this, but in comparison to what we’re used to, tones down the drama. The track is built upon a funky bass, surrounded by various horns, siren effects, clapping, etc, etc, which adds up to make a colourful number recalling quintessential 80sness. Win Butler’s talkative tone paired with the mellow funk catches a likeness to Pet Shop Boys numbers. Despite its fun, Signs of Life lacks conviction, with diverse instrumentalism being chucked in here and there, nothing ever making a truly coherent breakthrough. For me, its completeness as a track is questionable. But there is no doubting the entertaining undertones the electronics have delivered. And hey, it’s Arcade Fire – they’re Canadian national treasures and should be protected at all costs.
Eleanor Chivers

Single Review – Arcade Fire – Creature Comfort

‘Creature Comfort’ is the second single from their upcoming ‘Everything Now’ album. Heavy on production, the song has a heavy synth background that has definite 80s vibes. The song is produced well with the simple tuning of the synthesizer blending with the voice of Win Butler. The style of the song is interesting, with obvious continuation from their previous album, ‘Reflektor,’ but whilst maintaining an image of something new. ‘Creature Comfort’ is a good piece f music that would definitely work well in both a nightclub setting or an independent film. ‘Creature Comfort’ definitely ups the excitement for their next album.

Matthew Johnston

Single Review – Arcade Fire – Everything Now

Everything now is Arcade Fires’ new single that precedes the Canadian band’s new album with the same name, which will be released july 28th. At the beginning you will be surprised by a melody which reminded me of ABBA, which is amazing. I wasn’t sure what I was hearing to be honest, but it’s so happy and uplifting and it brings the band back to the bands style in their 2013 album ‘Reflektor’. There’s only a hint of melancholy there. Adding the flute to this song with a weird techno intro that turns into that cacophony and then into this whole other beat and feel.

Everything now gives you the feeling of a band that is in control of their sound and it displays incredibly imaginative and wonderful songwriting. They found their balance, and if they manage not to lose it we can expect an amazing new album.
Lea Fabbrini 

Single Review – Arcade Fire ft. Mavis Staples – I Give You Power 

If we didn’t already know of President Trump’s unpopularity in the world of celebrity already, it seems some big names have decided to affirm this in the releases of their protest tracks. Alongside The Gorillaz, Arcade Fire dropped I Give You Power the eve of the threatening inauguration. Unlike the The Gorillaz, however, who chose to embody their opinions concerning Trump in a fumble of melancholy confusion, Arcade Fire’s release is electrifying in every sense. The track builds upon itself with heavy synths while switching up the sound every now and again, which only seems to intensify the forcible vocals. Recruiting the soulful voice of Mavis Staples, at the same time as adding extra gusto, thoroughly emphasises the sense of togetherness this song symbolises, drawing influences from different genres and backgrounds. And this message is the true core of the track: Arcade Fire, in conjunction with the song, tweeted: “It’s never been more important that we stick together & take care of each other.” I Give You Power comes to a hauntingly powerful conclusion, as Win Butler whispers “I can take it away…watch me” into the ear of the listener. It’s an intelligently-produced track with a strong morale: a winner.

Eleanor Chivers

Will Butler – Policy Review

Arcade Fire’s rhythm guitarist Will Butler has often been the solid backing in what at times can be quite a chaotic band musically, that shifts and spirals around his brother’s slick and meandering vocals. Now with his solo debut, Will himself now gets to take charge with his own brand of slick meandering with Policy. At eight tracks long it’s a sharp and rapid album with quick-fire tracks and rapid rotations and progressions. It certainly looks like a break from Arcade Fire’s recent body of work and offers up a new/old approach that harks back to their early days. A nostalgic revisit or a revitalised take?

The lead single from his album is ‘Take My Side’. It demonstrates a keen sense of jangling, slightly distorted riffs and sharp percussion. With a vocal very much akin to his brother Win, the track almost sounds like an earlier Arcade Fire track, but the track doesn’t offer much in the way of quirks and new ideas. It is very much an indulgence in a garage tinged pop song that is well worn, but well delivered nevertheless. ‘Anna’ is an endlessly infectious and jiving track that’s lead by nudging riffs and sharp percussion. It offers up an indelible hook that goes on to reel off urgent piano spills that bookend Will’s vocal progression from whirring to shrieking vocal. The track continues to build up it’s infection of rhythm with the addition of a saxophone to amplify it only further. A wonderfully urgent and rapid track.

‘What I want’ is another whirlwind track with brisk rhythms and bass-lines with a wondrous enthused energy about it. Such an energy that’s more prominent from his near breathless delivery of his random and Jarvis Cocker-like witty lyrics and is one of the highlights of the album. The album opens with ‘Witness’ and is a soft-edged piano romp with the rapid chords intercepted by Will’s rapid vocal delivery almost between each key and the whole instrumental is accentuated by the harmonious backing vocals. ‘Something’s Coming’ offers up a bit of fuzz tinged funk that’s driven by the low lying bass line and the bear whimsical backing vocals and disco-like laser effects yet enters into a bit of unorganised chaos at times, but you get the feeling that was his intention anyway. The piano swoons and acoustic rambling that fill the rest of the track do offer up a nice break between the pent up energy of the other tracks but they do feel a little out of place. The strong points of the album are those moments of unrefined energy and enthusiasm that really kick on the album with little remorse. Sure it’s nothing special but it’s pretty damn enjoyable and the organised chaos of Policy is something everyone needs from time to time.

Will Butler – Policy = 7/10

Sunday Suggestion – Arcade Fire – Reflektor

Reflektor’ is a single from Arcade Fire’s fourth studio album Reflektor that was released in 2013 and produced by the great James Murphy. The album may not have the complete quality of their third album, but it was still a very strong album and it largely made up their up-beat and simply wondrous Glastonbury headliner. The track has percussion and a rhythm riff that creates a solid hook. The vocals are spaced out well and sit perfectly above the instrumental core with the switch to French on the bridge keeping you on your toes and adding to the variety. The burst of the horns too; gives the hook an extra kick as well. The song goes on to take up a highly atmospheric build up and instant fall as it realigns itself back to normal which is something which won’t fail you when done in such a way. Even Bowie makes a brief appearance too. Despite being crammed full of different elements and three different vocals; nothing kills off anything else and they’ve utilised the plus seven minutes they had to good effect to really spread everything out and keep the atmospheric quality of it as well as retaining a lot of room for the different sound progressions and melodies.

Arcade Fire – Reflektor Review

After taking the world by storm in 2011 with their third album Suburbs; Arcade Fire are to return with their fourth: Reflektor. Without a doubt this is possibly the most pivotal moment yet for Arcade Fire as a band because of the high expectation from their third album which has made them big players now in terms of the world’s top groups. With that in mind the scrutiny will be on a whole new level for them. Getting James Murphy in as producer is a positive step simply because he’s a musician as well and is a pretty capable one at that. Besides that; you can always get in a guest artist to re-focus and perhaps enhance out-put and having the presence of David Bowie working on the album with you will probably do that. The sound they’ve created is perhaps their most experimental and intriguing but does it have the desired effect?

‘Reflektor’ is a song that has percussion and a rhythm riff that creates a solid hook and one that might get you dancing if you’re not careful. The vocals are spaced out well and sit perfectly above the instrumental hook with the switch to French on the bridge keeping you on your toes and adding to the variety. The burst of the horns too; gives the hook an extra kick as well. The song goes on to take up a highly atmospheric build up and instant fall as it realigns itself back to normal. Something which won’t fail you when done in such a way. The slight sound of Bowie will be make people even more excitable when you can clearly hear the great man himself towards the end of the song and it sounds like it could work well with him in other songs with his vocal against a wash of rhythm and melody. Despite being crammed full of different elements and three different vocals; nothing kills off anything else and they’ve utilised the plus seven minutes they had to good effect to really spread everything out and keep the atmospheric quality of it as well as retaining a lot of room for everything too. ‘Afterlife exudes rhythmic quality and finesse with the mix of conventional and Caribbean-like percussion and the short stabs at the synths have the same effect. The other elements are easily spread across the bass groove and rhythm with the more echoed and softer synth chords and the distorted riffs flowing across it all. This provides a stable foundation for the vocals to fall on to. The backing echoed backing vocals stretching and expanding Butler’s more immediate vocal out and into the faded synths while still sitting above the music to give the song the direction it needs. The song draws to a conclusion was a culmination of various tones and styles of synth which will usually have a more lasting effect than an abrupt or lazy ending.

‘Here Comes The Night Time’ starts more suddenly with a more staggered structure which the vocals base themselves around briefly until the shift in tone ushered in by the piano’s melody. The reverberating guitars and the repeating of the song title lyric builds up the sound for the third change of tone within the first minute. The song returns to its staggered and steady beat but this time is woven together by faded guitars and synths in the background. Though the song sounds tame at times, it really doesn’t lose focus and they certainly can’t be accused to that with the fourth change of tone which rapidly speeds up the songs layout of which I still haven’t decided if it works or not. Regardless of this they masterfully pull the song back into its primary rhythm and beat and their attempts can certainly be appreciated in how they maintained the songs flow despite the tone changes. ‘You Already Know’ is very catchy and full of harmony and pop melody but it is standard indie fodder in that sense, but still a song they worked well. ‘Awful Sound’ is characterized by the contrasting sounds of the steady bass line and the rapid and more intricate percussion which allows the guitar to layer itself on top. A standard feature but utilised in quite a different fashion of which they pretty much pulled off. All in all; I think that they’ve been treat a little too harshly by some critics who have failed to grasp what they’ve tried to do; particularly with the percussion. But having said that, this album is not their finest work but is evidence of how they can advance their work in the future.

Arcade Fire – Reflektor = 8/10

Images from www.stereogum.com / pitchfork.com 

 

Single Review – Arcade Fire – Reflektor

After taking the world by storm in a good way in 2010/2011 with their third album suburbs; Arcade Fire are to return with their fourth: Reflektor. The lead single is also the title track and without a doubt this is possibly the most pivotal moment yet for Arcade Fire as a band because of the high expectation from their third album which has made them big players now in terms of the world’s top bands. With that in mind the scrutiny will be on a whole new level for them. Getting James Murphy in as producer is a positive step simply because he’s a musician as well and is a pretty capable one at that. Besides that; you can always get in a guest artist to re-focus and perhaps enhance out-put and rumours that David Bowie is working on the album with them will probably do that! The song has percussion and rhythm riff that creates a solid hook and one that get you dancing if you’re not careful. The vocals are spaced out and sit perfectly above the instrumental hook with the switch to French on the bridge keeps you on your toes and adds to the variety. The burst of the horns too; give the hook an extra kick as well. The song goes on to take up a highly atmospheric build up and instant fall as it realigns itself back to normal. Something which won’t fail you when done in such a way. The rumours about Bowie will be even more excitable when you can clearly hear the great man himself towards the end of the song and it sounds like it could work well with him in other songs with his vocal against a wash of rhythm and melody. Despite being crammed full of different elements and three different vocals; nothing kills off anything else and they’ve utilised the plus seven minutes they had to good effect to really spread everything out and keep the atmospheric quality of it as well as retaining a lot of room for everything too. This song has set a marker for them to deliver with the album and with what they could have up their sleeve, then the album’s going to be very interesting.  

http://youtu.be/7E0fVfectDo

Image from www.spin.com