Everything Now, released in 2017, is the latest album from the acclaimed indie rock band Arcade Fire. It’s been four years since the release of Reflektor, aside from the one off single, “I Give You Power”, released earlier this year. Anticipation for a stellar follow up was high, especially as a band with their track record. Reflektor was dividing, as Arcade Fire shifted towards a more dance-oriented sound, but has since settled as a critical piece of their discography. Everything Now expands on the sound they explored on Reflektor, but in a much more saccharine way.
The album opens with an intro to “Everything Now”, the shimmering, ABBA-esque title track. It’s a fitting introduction to the album as it introduces the consumerist theme that runs throughout the record, along with the false aura of happiness it creates. The song thematically fits with the rest of their discography, what divided fans is the sound. “Everything Now” is an even further progression from the dance sound they dove into on Reflektor. The song fades into sirens and a brief moment of chaos before a groovy bassline rises above the mix. One thing Everything Now undeniably does well is the transitions from song to song. It creates a cohesive feeling to an album that explores many different styles. That bassline is the intro to “Signs Of Life”, which employs a throwback talk singing style, similar to Blondie’s “Rapture”. That same experiment is used in the following song, “Creature Comfort”, which really emphasizes the lyrics. Win Butler toning back his usually loud, reverent vocals works out for the better on this release. The sometimes sarcastic, sometimes sincere, occasionally self-referential lyrics are passionately delivered on every song.
The lyrics range between the most thoughtfully direct to the laziest they’ve written. “Creature Comfort” has the making to be a classic, with the dirty synth in the intro and the unabashed lyrics regarding depression, self-esteem, and suicide. “Everything Now” explores themes they’ve explored before on The Suburbs, dissatisfaction with modern life. On the other hand, “Signs Of Life” resorts to listing out the days of the week among other gems like “Love is hard, sex is easy”. That being said, “Signs Of Life” is one of the catchiest songs on the album. There’s a quality to the lyrics that get them stuck in your head from the first listen.
One of the more experimental songs for Aracde Fire is “Chemistry”. It’s not experimental in terms of pushing boundaries, but instead falls back on a reggae-esque beat and some of the most sexually aggressive lyrics in their discography. It’s obviously sung tongue-in-cheek and can even be stretched to fit the theme of wanting “everything now”, including a partner, but it’s not something you’d expect from the band that penned “Wake Up”. However, Everything Now is best enjoyed without any expectations or preconceived ideas of what Arcade Fire’s next logical step would be. With its beat that trips over itself, “Peter Pan” is another unique track in a similar vein to “Chemistry”.
Where Everything Now will redeem itself to those that didn’t like the first half is the closing stretch of songs. On “Electric Blue” Régine’s voice soars right into the pulsing synth. It’s not the best she’s sounded but that’s not the point, it simply adds to the electric tension of the song. “Good God Damn” is one of the more low-key songs on the album but it’s a grower. Win’s falsetto sounds incredible and the wordplay on the line “Maybe there’s a good God, damn” is a surprising twist on the title. The groove of “Put Your Money On Me” is instantly grabbing and gradually builds and swells into the climax of the album. However, the song that’s most similar to their past material is “We Don’t Deserve Love”. It’s the perfect way to wrap up such a dividing record. Arcade Fire prove that they can slow it down and write what some fans want to hear to great effect. They aren’t in the same place as they were when they wrote Funeral, or even The Suburbs, and neither is society. Everything Now is their commentary on the state consumerism, depression, and relationships today.
I think expectations get in the way of truly enjoying Everything Now for what it is. Arcade Fire have three, maybe four depending on who you ask, incredibly well crafted albums and Everything Now doesn’t break that streak. It’s clear that just as much thought and care went into making the album as anything else they’ve released. Even the sometimes grating marketing strategy, where they pretended to work for the Everything Now Corporation, is admirable for its attention to detail. They did everything from leading fans to fake boxes of cereal to obtain the single, “Creature Comfort”, to writing a fake review of their own album on Stereoyum. If anyone does, it’s Arcade Fire who deserve the right to branch out a bit and play what they want.
Pressing Details: This is the translucent blue pressing of the album released by Sonovox Records. It’s referred to as the “Night Version” in contrast to the “Day Version” on black vinyl with an alternate cover. Everything Now is a completist’s nightmare, as there’s also an additional 20 different covers with the phrase “Everything Now” on the billboard each written in a different language. The sky and mountains in the background are also slightly different in each cover. It’s a really cool idea and expands on the already well thought out artwork for this album. The record itself sounds excellent. It’s an album where the bass shines, which the vinyl pressing accentuates. The translucent blue vinyl pops next to the night sky in the artwork. The gatefold sleeve comes in an outer, plastic slipcase that features stars on the front and logos for each song on the back. It’s a nice touch, although undoubtedly why the record is a bit more expensive for a single LP. The gatefold has an interesting image of the six core band members cramped in a small studio the album was presumably recorded in. The lyrics insert is made to resemble a newspaper ad with each song representing a different product. They went all in on the consumerist theme and the packaging is all the better for it.
You can purchase Everything Now directly from Amazon here, but note that it’s a different version on black vinyl with an alternate cover. You can find the “Night Version” on translucent blue vinyl, pictured below, through your local record store or various places online.