Arcade Fire – Everything Now (4 stars)

Arcade Fire – Everything Now

Band's fifth album continues their propensity for funereal themes and upbeat tempos

Arcade Fire have built a career on burial hymns – their first album was called Funeral, for pity's sake – but their grief is typically mitigated by dancefloor-friendly undercurrents. Even as early as that 2004 debut, songs like 'Rebellion (Lies)' and 'Crown of Love' smuggled propulsive grooves beneath weeping strings and Win Butler's wails. Sure, it was dancing-as-oblivion – disguising woe as woah-oh-oh – but it was dancing all the same.

That trend continues on fifth album Everything Now. 'Signs of Life' and the eponymous lead single are disco delights invoking Boney M and Abba respectively (the latter another band unafraid to spill tears on the dancefloor), while 'Creature Comfort' and 'Put Your Money on Me' are Moroder-esque synth gems. As with 2013's Reflektor (co-produced by LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy), the discotronic vibe mirrors the talent behind the desk: Daft Punk's Thomas Bangalter, Pulp's Steve Mackey and Portishead's Geoff Barrow join returning producer Markus Dravs.

Lyrically, Butler is as cheery as ever: the title song is a critique of social media's fake smiles and FOMO, while suicide-in-the-bath imagery crops up on both 'Good God Damn' and aforementioned album highlight 'Creature Comfort' (which macabrely references Arcade Fire's earlier output: 'she told me she came so close / filled up the bathtub and put on our first record'). Having morbid themes tempered by uptempo beats remains a winning combo, though; the only significant misstep is the smart-but-dumb punk song 'Infinite Content' ('Infinite content, infinite content, infinitely content'), which would be fine were it not followed by 'Infinite_Content' – the same song smugly reimagined as torpid country-folk. Because it's, like, infinite, yeah?

Thankfully, it's quickly supplanted by second single 'Electric Blue', an MGMT-like pop shimmer we suspect is a tribute to 'Reflektor' compatriot David Bowie. Following his lead, Everything Now puts on red shoes to dance the blues.

Track list
1. 'Everything Now (continued)'
2. 'Everything Now'
3. 'Signs of Life'
4. 'Creature Comfort'
5. 'Peter Pan'
6. 'Chemistry'
7. 'Infinite Content'
8. 'Infinite_Content'
9. 'Electric Blue'
10. 'Good God Damn'
11. 'Put Your Money on Me'
12. 'We Don't Deserve Love'
13. 'Everything Now (continued)'

Arcade Fire tour the UK in 2018 in support of Everything Now.

Arcade Fire

The headily-acclaimed Canadian ensemble perform songs from their upcoming album, as well as tracks from their back catalogue.

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