Much has been made of Arcade Fire’s recent love of dance and disco, in particular ABBA, a band referenced on the title track. Yet Everything Now owes a heavy debt to the Clash’s sprawling Sandinista! This is a work that touches on rock, disco, reggae, and more, but does so with a guitar-based mindset and free-form sense of experimentation.
Everything Now makes for a good, early-in-the-evening party record, one that sets a tone that hints dance-like music will be played even if there won’t necessarily be any full-on dancing. In other words, get loose, but don’t break any lamps.
The inevitable Stranger Things movie. It’s retro enough to reference another era, but not so tied down in the past that it sounds derivative.
Picking up on the dance-oriented vibes of 2013’s Reflektor, Everything Now comes across as another big statement from Arcade Fire. Yet its topicality feels less pronounced than that of the band’s Grammy-winning The Suburbs, which presents various snapshots of a life outside the urban bubble. The Internet is the big subject of interest here—along with social media and the media in general. Musically, the Canadian band toys more with bringing electronic, reggae, and dub textures into pop-ready anthems.
The album features one absolutely killer moment: “Creature Comfort,” on which Win Butler and Régine Chassagne trade vocals over a searing keyboard and pulsating guitar. “God, make me famous,” they yell, adding, “If you can’t, just make it painless.” Consider the songs a thesis that aims to probe how the modern, always-on era plays tricks on our minds and egos. While the track constitutes the only straight-ahead arena-ready adventure here, plenty of smaller pleasures—the techno-dub of “Peter Pan,” the pretty pity party disguised as “We Don’t Deserve Love,” the funky, roller-rink-ready “Electric Blue,” and the aggressive, slightly hip-hop-inflected “Signs of Life”—show that even if Everything Now isn’t Arcade Fire at its best, nobody comes away embarrassed.
Sonically, the record has its share of moments, with low-end frequencies dipping down into the nether regions and holding firm. The album also boasts an airy spaciousness that causes the music to bloom and notes to properly decay. Dynamics are average. While keyboards remain the instrument of choice, the guitars get short thrift. Columbia deserves props for surrounding the gatefold jacket with a sleek, removable, plastic, image-appointed slipcase. As affirmed by the promotions leading up to its release, Everything Now, after all, is as much an art project as a musical statement. —Todd Martens
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