In a world where our favorite bands are getting older and changing, some do it with the grace and self-awareness that earns them the upmost respect. This would be the case for artists like the Foo Fighters who while moving onto bigger venues and broader audiences, still haven’t forgotten their roots and dependable fans from the beginning. On the other hand, there’s bands like Arcade Fire who seem to abandoned their crowd on the most recent addition to their discography titled Everything Now.
As fans of the band will know, Arcade Fire aren’t new to the game of social commentary. On Neon Bible, the band took digs at organized religion in a way that garnered them a fan base who would’ve taken a bullet for them. On the LP that followed, The Suburbs, the group took a stance in solidarity with frustrated youth being led down a path of mundanity in life. Now n Everything Now, it appears as though Arcade Fire has turned on their audience. The obvious area they’ve chosen to explore on the new album is the convenience of technology putting them in the role of the journalists that complain about millennials.
In some aspects, I agree with them; I try to stay away from my computer and devices so as not to become to attached, often choosing to call people rather than text. I even deleted my Facebook a while back in an effort to become more private. However, I’m not saying my actions are better than anyone else’s; these were my own decisions for myself. If someone wants to have a profile on every social platform than go for it, it’s just not for me.
But this isn’t the place for me to stand on a soapbox, I’m talking about Arcade Fire’s new album.
With lyrics like “looking for signs every night, but there’s no signs of life” and “Love is hard, sex is easy”, the band has taken on cell phone apps as their target. A tough challenge as most of their fans than have been with them since the first album, Funeral, probably have smart phones. The dreaded cellular device is challenged again in the title track with the line “Every song that I’ve ever heard, is playing at the same time, it’s absurd”. It’s hard to believe a band that debut during the iPod’s uprising is taking a clear stance against it but it’s hard to believe a lot of the lyrics throughout the album. It’s also hard to believe that Arcade Fire would choose millennials as the most notable thing to write about while a Dorito is serving as president of the United States but, again, not my time on the soapbox.
It’s also worthy to point out that beyond the lyricism, Everything Now is musically bland. In the past, Arcade Fire has melded organic instrumentation with electronic influences in a nice way; even if the songs weren’t recorded live, it still felt like it was. The new tracks on Everything Now sound like it was recorded by one person in a studio; all energy has been abandoned and replaced by synthesizers that sound like the stuff that comes with GarageBand for free. At best, I would say some of the songs like Electric Blue or Peter Pan would sound alright at a party where no one is paying attention to the music but for the most part, there’s nothing drawing me to ask “What’s that song playing right now?”.
It’s tough to get old, I should know. Growing older is even harder if you’re doing it in the limelight with tens of thousands of fans. In the end, fans shouldn’t be mad at Arcade Fire for lashing out at modernity on Everything Now, they’re obviously going through the motions of trying to be different yet staying the same effortlessly. However, the band made too many personal quips at the expense of a reliable following, it’ll be interesting to see how they come back from such an uninteresting and pretentious release like Everything Now.
Click here to listen to the title track from Everything Now.
– By Mike Metcalf