Review Summary: dancing around gleefully at the bottom of the barrelFinally
, we can rejoice, boys and girl(s?). We’ve found, for better or for probably worse, a record that voluntarily drags its feet in neon coloured sands; a record that competently trades blows with my very own vapid, circumlocutory style of prose. In anticipation of this here album, Arcade Fire wore a glittered heart on their sleeve, coding the hype machine with the surface-level lyricism of their singles so as to create surface-level expectations that they may glide gracefully over.
(All speculation, of course. In any case:“Looking for signs of life / Looking for signs every night / But there's no signs of life / So we do it again”
patently belies the notion.)
Oh, Arcade Fire: you beautiful, sprightly, naïve, optimistic, stupid stupid stupid
I refuse to begrudge this group their optimism. In between blind proclamations that arise from the same place as platitudes, Everything Now
is a place of genuine triumph. The hook to Put Your Money On Me
flies low with the admission: “I know it’s not easy”, momentarily washing away the pomposity, the larger-than-life polished affectations. It is here, at eye level (and/or at face value) that the record feels more like a celebration than an overcompensation. It’s a tightrope walk, sure – where Arcade Fire continually, obstinately take one giant, eager step forward only to follow it up with a thousand smaller steps in the opposite direction. Keep calm: inhale / count to three / exhale.
And it’s entirely understandable – inevitable, even – that this album is verbose; fuelled by a sense of wonder that is mostly lost on me. Sure, Chemistry
is indomitably vibrant, but it feels like an especially milquetoast Vampire Weekend (shout-outs to Vampire Weekend) song, replete with deflating wind instruments and the kind of call-and-response vocal that the average person can spot from a mile away. Then, there’s Infinite Content
– a split-second of self-reflection that spans two different pieces. It’s ironic, I think, that they run dry the well of precious time to espouse “infinite content”, just to compensate for the fact that – during this record – there isn’t actually much of it. Unsurprisingly, this is what happens when you narrow your scope on the concept of everything
, trying to curtail a spectrum of spectrums without deciding on an angle with which to approach it. Arcade Fire aren’t at a loss for words, they’re just at a loss for things to say.
I’m not here to wax lyrical about works like Funeral
only to scorn this record like it’s the child I never wanted. Moreso, it’s the child I never knew I never wanted. I’m not one for hype – I either ignore it or learn to love something I’ve become prematurely invested in. Everything Now
, I feel, is Arcade Fire commanding respect by ignoring the hype that they’ve inadvertently generated. Forgive me for shoehorning in a vague sense of positivity, but there will always be something to be said of bands that do their own thing, even if their fans insist it’s the opposite. So, by all means, it’s my belief that this record is surface-level. It’s fleeting and it’s turgid and it’s offensively ornate, but Arcade Fire probably couldn’t care less -- and that’s a wonderful thing.