Arcade Fire
WE


2.6
average

Review

by Nic Renshaw STAFF
May 10th, 2022 | 55 replies


Release Date: 05/06/2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: WE're All Gonna Make It?

Arcade Fire "made it" a long, long time ago. They were wildly successful by 2006, before even their second album had released, and over the past sixteen years, as "hipster" became the tired buzzword of yesteryear and every advertising department found a hapless gaggle of quirk-rockers to prop up their brands with, this band has really only solidified their standing as one of the most widely-recognized and profitable enterprises in the world of indie. Whether true believers greet WE with acclaim or disgust or indifference, Arcade Fire will keep up their steady regimen of arena concerts and oily corporate engagements, because they are not beholden to the mewlings of online music enthusiasts in any way that matters. They've beaten the game. What do we want from them?

What do WE want from them?

I am, despite everything, an Arcade Fire fan, or at the very least an invested listener. I am a repeat customer. At one point, this band meant a lot to me— chalk it up to adolescence if you want, but plenty of music from my high school years has long since lost its luster while "Tunnels" and "We Used to Wait" and "Keep the Car Running" tug my heartstrings as dextrously as ever. Even though they have not released an album I've enjoyed in over a decade, I still love The Suburbs and Funeral. If Arcade Fire has any remaining ability to write and perform music that moves me the way those albums do, I'm more than willing to jump on board with WE.

All relevant boards remain un-jumped on. WE, first and foremost, clarifies what exactly I want from Arcade Fire: I want them to own it. I want them to realize that their pouting and tut-tutting over Our Modern Hyper-Saturated Overstimulating Media Landscape rings disastrously hollow, because they play Coachella and they play at Las Vegas “crypto fests” and when a longtime band member departs people post articles about it. A successful career in media means that you’re part of the problem, and it means that you can’t get away with being cutesy about it, and it means that people feel less sorry for you when you cry. It means that you don't get to be a part of “We” by default anymore. Maybe that's unfair, but fairness didn't sell a million copies of Neon Bible. Make no mistake, Win Butler knows where his bread is buttered. So, does he really want everyone to "unsubscribe", or does he just want to not feel bad about it anymore? Is WE really a battle to save True Human Connection from the jaws of consumerism, or is it a battle for these jagoffs' personal emotional comfort?

Whew, for a band that used to trade in such guileless sincerity, it sure is easy to be cynical about Arcade Fire these days. Can there truly be no redemption for socially semiconscious indiestars? Well, maybe not on a thematic level, but Arcade Fire are nothing if not professionals, and when they aren't busy huffing over various societal ills, they're ably consolidating choice sounds from all across their wide-ranging career. There’s an admirable effort on display here to include a little something for everyone. You want sentimental jangle pop? "Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)" and the title track should prove treacly and twinkly enough to satisfy anyone still holding out hope for that next Mumford & Sons album. You want a synth-soaked four-on-the-floor? "Unconditional II (Race and Religion)" features the slickest dance beat these guys have laid down since "Mountains Beyond Mountains", and even "Age of Anxiety II (Rabbit Hole)" proves reasonably groovy if you can get past a handful of eyeroll-worthy lyrics. You want some classic Arcade Fire shoot-for-the-Moon bombast? Dig the stadium-ready lead single "The Lightning", crackling with warm, Spielbergian emotion in a way that finally lets the band embrace their comfortable, middle-aged adulthood without forgetting the energy of their youth. You want trite, sniffy mellow gold faff? The “End of the Empire” suite is, uhh, also here! This may well be the group’s most sonically diverse outing yet, for good and for ill; even on the many occasions it isn’t convincing, it often manages enough novelty to entertain nonetheless, and Nigel Godrich's impeccable production job certainly makes the whole affair easy on the ears.

WE asserts Arcade Fire’s dominance over their amorphous influencesphere as decisively as it asserts that they have very little of interest or import to say about pretty much anything. They have always been best at delivering big feelings in obvious, uncomplicated ways, and (on paper at least) they still have everything necessary to do so. As with 2017’s Everything Now, their musical missteps hurt far less than their insistence on being such exhausting buzzkills, willing to lecture us about the evils of mass media but unwilling to find any remotely interesting angle to do so from. Even as they reaffirm their gifts for personal drama and catharsis, Arcade Fire remains a band in search of real convictions, too out-of-touch for too long to convincingly portray ordinary people, listlessly trotting out flat Banksyisms while the crowd waits for the next big chorus. I guess we'll just have to adjust…



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user ratings (130)
2.9
good
other reviews of this album
Odal (2)
w/e...

SandwichBubble (2.5)
Arcade Fire are back!...

BrushedRed (2)
WE don’t deserve love...

pizzamachine (2.5)
Wtf. Not their best album....



Comments:Add a Comment 
Kompys2000
Staff Reviewer
May 10th 2022


7049 Comments

Album Rating: 2.6

Follow me as I go rambo / to the moon in my brand new lambo

Digging: Moon Tooth - Phototroph

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
May 10th 2022


3802 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

Killer review, my man!

Sowing
Moderator
May 10th 2022


40956 Comments


Awesome review, might be my favorite of yours. I think you really managed to get to the bottom of what Arcade Fire has become without being unfair about it.

Digging: Zach Bryan - American Heartbreak

pizzamachine
May 11th 2022


15040 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Review starts at fourth paragraph. You’re welcome.

Colton
May 11th 2022


15090 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

when i was 12 i had to do a presentation about myself in french class and i told everyone how much i like Arcade Fire and help up my CD of The Suburbs

Kompys2000
Staff Reviewer
May 11th 2022


7049 Comments

Album Rating: 2.6

We stan tween Colton wow

bigguytoo9
May 11th 2022


1243 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

last time I saw these guys was 12 years ago and ill never again pay a penny for another AF concert.

Digging: Mizmor and Thou - Myopia

hamid95
May 11th 2022


1039 Comments


excellent write-up

Mort.
May 11th 2022


17767 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

apparently this was named after the yevgeny zamyatin book,



people should stop reading dystopian fiction

Digging: As Cities Burn - Son, I Loved You At Your Darkest

Mort.
May 11th 2022


17767 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

'In March 2015, Butler and Chassagne attended the launch of music streaming service Tidal, and revealed themselves, along with other notable artists, as shareholders in the company'



rofl

Mort.
May 11th 2022


17767 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

'this infernos hyper drive, dont believe the hype' indeed

Mort.
May 11th 2022


17767 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

the further i get into this album, the more i feel like nobody has ever told win butler to shut the fuck up or that hes not as amazing as he clearly thinks he is



whole thing reeks of heads up arses sniffing glorious farts

Demon of the Fall
May 11th 2022


24591 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

guy called 'Win' in self-importance shocker

I bet he's never lost at family games night

Digging: Gospel - The Loser

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
May 11th 2022


47469 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"A successful career in media means that you’re part of the problem, and it means that you can’t get away with being cutesy about it, and it means that people feel less sorry for you when you cry. It means that you don't get to be a part of “We” by default anymore"

imo this is one step too far in an otherwise thoroughly incisive non-partisan paragraph of big joy. arcade fire exhibit that sweet capitalist cocktail of smugness, delusory smartness and zero self-awareness so particularly that this kinda industry/success generalisation feels like a lapse of focus midway through a righteous skewering. don't disagree with the point being made re. the band themselves, but rather the universalisation of its phrasing - not a big fan of that "you" inviting open reference to any successful artist whomsoever, deserving or not, when i'm so immersed in the image of snatching win's cake/smartphone/exfoliation gel from under his nose and exporting it to antarctica via bittorrent!!

loved this review though, excellent scenes and thoroughly agreed gj

Digging: Dream Dolphin - Dolphins Talk to You

Mort.
May 11th 2022


17767 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

" arcade fire exhibit that sweet capitalist cocktail of smugness, delusory smartness and zero self-awareness"



Well put

bloc
May 11th 2022


68472 Comments


Really bad album

Digging: Ibibio Sound Machine - Electricity

ashcrash9
May 11th 2022


3179 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

superb review

JohnZapp
May 11th 2022


50 Comments


Really really really well written. There’s only 4 tracks that I keep coming back to; age of anxiety I, end of the empire I-III, lightning, and unconditional I. The rest I don’t care for at all. Have only felt that way for this and EN. Ugh.

Kompys2000
Staff Reviewer
May 11th 2022


7049 Comments

Album Rating: 2.6

@johnny mmm def see what you mean, I actually flip-flopped a few times on using the royal you there and ultimately went with it because I liked how it sounded and I do think any band in AF's position would have to contend with those things



But yeh big agree that the failures here feel specific enough to make that a less salient point

Colton
May 11th 2022


15090 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

the end of the first track is hilarious. sounds like something Cartman would write in that episode where he tells everyone he has anxiety



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