Music

Arcade Fire, Everything Now – good tunes underwrite OTT conceptual conceit

Arcade Fire are going through a bit of a Pop phase of excruciating self-awareness, to use a U2 analogy, but Everything Now still boasts some great songs

“Infinite content, infinite content, infinitely content!” chants Arcade Fire’s Win Butler over a rousing Ramones-y three-chord punk-rock clatter, wailing feedback and a wonkily detuned synthesiser on Infinite Content, before the song is immediately reprised in a lazy country-rock style as Infinite_Content. Call these two tracks at the midway stage of Everything Now the satirical centre point of the Canadian band’s fifth album, their first since signing to Columbia. It’s a record concerned so wholesale with mocking modern culture of repetitive online churn that it starts and ends with two tracks called Everything_Now (Continued), which merge one into the other if you play the album on repeat, creating the clever auditory illusion of one infinite loop.

Never one to give it merely the standard-issue promo push, Arcade Fire have crafted a conceptual campaign replete with things like inventing a sinister corporate backer, the Everything Now Corporation, which has been churning out fictitious Arcade Fire adverts, stories and product endorsements. Where other bands strive not to be drowned out in the social media din, with Everything Now Arcade Fire have practically become the social media din. They’ve even mocked up their own hastily conceived and mixed review of Everything Now on a site called Stereoyum (a parody of music website Stereogum).

Take or leave the promotional conceit, it’s all underwritten with some terrifically good tunes. The album is produced this time by an all-star cast that includes Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter, Pulp bassist Steve Mackey, Geoff Barrow from Portishead and regular go-to guy Markus Dravs. It’s formed from twitchy Talking Heads-style synth-funk (Signs of Life), amped-up dancehall reggae (Chemistry) and, to quote Arcade Fire’s own mock review, a few songs which “we’ll compare favourably but slightly dismissively to LCD Soundsystem” (Creature Comfort, Put Your Money on Me).

To use a U2 analogy, Arcade Fire are basically going through their Pop phase of excruciating self-awareness

The infuriatingly catchy title track is ABBA-esque disco pop with a lead-line played on pan flute (admittedly that one’s not for everyone). Even if neither the music nor the marketing shtick is groundbreaking – to use a U2 analogy, Arcade Fire are basically going through their Pop phase of excruciating self-awareness – there’s plenty of cause to be content.

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