The new album starts off with a sound remeniscent of the Reflektor era (which was also notorious for the marketing strategies that came before its release), but soon hits you right in the face with the infamous first single Everything Now, a kitschy but catchy mix of seventies disco samples and a familiar flute melody. Arcade Fire serves an eclectic combination of ironic lyrics accompanied by an overdose of musical earworms here.
The second and third track Signs of Life and Creature Comfort have to be my favourites of the singles released before the album came out. Especially Signs of Life still keeps up the seventies boogie in the bassline and background strings, which I personally can appreciate (unlike some other people I know). Even if things do become a bit repetetive at this point, the songs do follow up on each other quite well in their fetching ways. Creature Comfort is a hypnotising synthy loophole, again the repetition is alluring at first here.
So far, these first few songs gave me an expectant hopefulness for this album; If all of the songs were to follow this catchy disco-influence I wouldn't mind. But then the atrocious fourth track Peter Pan smashed all my positivity with the most cheesy reggae my eardrums have ever been exposed to. This song must have been written on some bad weed, with these cringeworthy lyrics: "Be my Wendy, I'll be your Peter Pan/Come on baby, take my hand/We can walk if we don't feel like flying/We can live, I don't feel like dying." I normally don't really care about lyrics all that much if the music is good and the melody goes along with it, but this whole song just makes me feel a thing that translates to "replacing shame" from the Dutch phrase "Plaatsvervangende schaamte".
Follow up Chemistry is another song that seems to pair well with the previous song, which we will not name any more. This follow up seems to at least have some soul in the music but superficial lyrics to accompany that. The Infinite Content double track intermission is the most obvious mockery of the audience, seemingly brainwashing the listener to say we're infinitely content. Don't think about meaning, just enjoy it right? All your money is already spent on it (wasted on this album you mean?).
The final five songs after this interlude are not quite as painful to listen to and rather enjoyable, but at the same time not greatly noteworthy in the context of the whole album. Electic Blue seems like a breath of fresh air after the first half, despite being slightly too high-pitched overall, but Good God Damn makes up for this with a bit of a murky bass riff and Butler finally showing some emotion while singing. Put your money on me is another ironically catchy song, yet flat in content once more. I do appreciate how We don't deserve love catches on after the previous song, and the song actually made me feel something, but after this turmoil of an album it loses power and we are forced to stay in the loop of Everything Now (continued), and listen to it over and over again, in which this song gets completely obscured.
I may have been too hopeful to hear more songs like the first singles that were released, that were considerately powerful and lively, such as Creature Comfort and Signs of Life. The whole album is hypnotising nonetheless and is meant to be listened to on repeat, for this reason the last song and first song follow each other up perfectly. This way there is no single song that definitely stands out, it's just a loop of repetition and irony. All of which seems to be a sales trick and most of us seem to fall for it. In some ways one can say the album does give Everything Now, but loses character and meaning because of it.
In conclusion, the main problem I have personally with this album is that there isn't the same kind of uniformity or wholeness in both music nor content, which was what I always appreciated in Arcade Fire's past albums as Neon Bible, The Suburbs and Reflektor. This non-uniformity might as well be the point of this album, considering its capitalist essence. This would explain why Everything Now offers something to please everyone, but with this became a meaningless, cheesy album filled with kitsch that is easier for anyone to understand instead of focussing on a target audience that is used to hearing something more profound from Arcade Fire. One could argue that the overall theme is an ironic take on capitalist society however, which makes Everything Now a dim shadow of Western society. Nevertheless I just came here to enjoy some decent music, which I think should be a priority over a mindless way of forcing social criticism into your themes.