Albums Of The Week

Music review: Arcade Fire’s Everything Now their lightest, most accessible work

Arcade Fire's album Everything Now features shimmering piano lines, disco beats and ultra-pop vibes that take you back to times past.
Arcade Fire's album Everything Now features shimmering piano lines, disco beats and ultra-pop vibes that take you back to times past.PHOTO: SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT SINGAPORE

Canadian art-rockers Arcade Fire's latest album is their lightest and most accessible one to date

One could be forgiven for thinking that much-vaunted Canadian art-rockers Arcade Fire have gone down the Abba route.

The title track of their fifth album, Everything Now, features shimmering piano lines, disco beats and ultra-pop vibes that take you back to times past.

It's only when the strained voice of frontman Win Butler and the band's trademark choral singalong kick in that you are assured that, yes, this is an Arcade Fire record.

The grand statements here on modern ailments are often too literal, such as when they take on emojis on the title track: "'Cause every time you smile it's a fake."

But aurally, this is one luscious album, their lightest and most accessible offering to date.

Like Abba, Butler and company pour copious amounts of honeyed hooks and saccharine, sometimes melancholic melodies, over bodymoving beats.

  • ALTERNATIVE/ DANCE ROCK

  • EVERYTHING NOW

    Arcade Fire

    Sonovox/ Columbia

    3.5/5 stars

The heavy synth lines on Put Your Money On Me are insistent, while Electric Blue, sung by singer and multi-instrumentalist Regine Chassagne, is a spacey, dance-rock number.

And no wonder - this is an album co-produced with illustrious electronica names such as Thomas Bangalter, from French electronic music juggernauts Daft Punk, and Geoff Barrow, from trip-hop stalwarts Portishead, as well as Steve Mackey, from Britpop trailblazers Pulp.

But Arcade Fire ultimately remain Arcade Fire - things get a little kooky on Chemistry, which mixes New Orleans horns with offbeat, Caribbean pop stylings.

Many tunes, including the allencompassing album title track, take aim at many people's incessant quest for instant gratification and the alienation that comes with being a slave to technology.

Signs Of Life, another disco banger, is a critique of the hook-up culture and hollow relationships ("Looking for signs of life/Looking for signs every night/But there's no signs of life/So we do it again").

Perhaps the most poignant parts of the album are the ruminations on heavier issues.

Creature Comfort is an upbeat and buoyant electronic rock number until you realise that the lyrics reference someone who almost took her own life to an Arcade Fire soundtrack: "Assisted suicide/She dreams about dying all the time/ She told me she came so close/ Filled up the bathtub and put on our first record," Butler sings.

Later on in the song, he offers empathy and encouragement: "It's not painless/She was a friend of mine, a friend of mine/And we're not nameless."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2017, with the headline 'Honeyed hooks over body-moving beats'. Print Edition | Subscribe