Everything Now is Arcade Fire’s fifth offering, their first since the prismatic lustre of 2013’s Reflektor that blended appearances from Jonathan Ross with references to Greek mythology and Joan of Arc. Like its counterpart Reflektor, Everything Now was also the subject of a bizarre PR campaign, this time including satirical marketing accounts on Twitter (@EverythingNowCo, for example, along with a Russian spambot), mock Everything Now-branded fidget spinners (I wish I was joking) their own version of those Kylie and Kendall Jenner t-shirts.
It’s not an easy listen, but Arcade Fire’s music rarely is, with their ornate, ineffable sound. Everything Now is fitful, lurching from one musical style to another. ‘Infinite Content’ and ‘Infinite_Content’ are consecutive tracks, with near-identical lyrics, yet their sound is vastly different. The former shines much more brightly, seeing Arcade Fire trying their hand at making a fast, guitar-driven, punkier track; something that works surprisingly well for them. By contrast, ‘Infinite_Content’ is a gentle, acoustic melody with a touch of violins.
‘Creature Comfort’ is undoubtedly the best track on the album, a song I’ve been obsessed with since it was released as a single in June. Lyrically, it’s dark, but as an overall package, it’s Arcade Fire at their best – their extravagant, scintillating, histrionic best.
‘Electric Blue’ is also a highlight, a rare moment where Regine Chassagne takes the role of lead vocalist instead. Reminiscent of The Suburbs’ ‘Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)’, ‘Electric Blue’ sounds like glitter and incandescence. ‘Signs of Life’ is fantastic too, a groove set to bass and brass, as is title track ‘Everything Now’, a shining disco that wouldn’t be out of place on Reflektor.
Everything Now feels like an exercise in experimentation, something which garners varying degrees of success. ‘Chemistry’ is an attempt at a reggae-tinged track that just simply doesn’t work, only improving when guitars are introduced towards the end, whereas the flirtation with punk in ‘Infinite Content’ is a welcome foray.
The brilliance peters out a little towards the end of the album; ‘Good God Damn’ is a dull and ‘Put Your Money On Me’ descends into something you could easily mistake for an ABBA song.
Most Arcade Fire albums have their own anthemic track – Funeral had the iconic ‘Wake Up’, The Suburbs had ‘Ready To Start’ and Neon Bible had the truly, truly fantastic ‘No Cars Go’, but this is lacking on Everything Now (aside from maybe ‘Creature Comfort’). Not to suggest that an anthem is the pillar upon which an album rests, but considering this style compasses some of Arcade Fire’s best songs, it seems a shame.
Everything Now isn’t Arcade Fire’s finest work, but if you sit back and relax into the weirdness, you can truly appreciate the artful mastery of Arcade Fire’s sound that they’ve curated into Everything Now.By Lucy McLaughlin