Arcade Fire’s fifth studio album was released on July 28 to mixed reviews. Really mixed reviews — critics seemed to either love or hate the album. Its Metacritic average score of 66 translates to “generally favorable” reviews, but this is simply due to the averaging of far ends of the critical spectrum.
The Times and the Guardian are exceptions to the “love it or hate it” rule; both provided genuinely mixed reviews. The Guardian wrote that the desire “to experiment musically isn’t enough to make Everything Now a bad album — there are songs worth hearing and genuinely thrilling music here — but rather a flawed one.” The Times said “The title song finds a breezy balance between earnestness and exhilaration. Elsewhere, that balance falters, and Everything Now becomes a slighter album than its predecessors.”
I’ve been a fan of the Canadian band from the beginning and my own view of Everything Now more or less echoes that of the Times and the Guardian, but with a bias toward the positive. There are some marvelous earworms here, and Arcade Fire’s perceptive critiques of modern society remain (though the perspectives have shifted somewhat). This time the targets are extreme consumerism (“Everything Now”) and media proliferation (“Infinite Content”). The concomitants to these, depression and suicide, are also present.
These targets remain timely — the lyric “every room in my house is filled with shit I couldn’t live without” certainly resonates with me. And the relevance of “Infinite Content” is borne out by, among other things, the Times’s new “What to Watch” columns, which run several times a week and which imply all we have to do is work and watch TV.
Some have said (and I agree) that Arcade Fire’s music “grows on you,” and this album certainly does. If you like the band’s earlier albums you’ll most likely enjoy this one as well. It’s a bit different, but that only serves to expand the group’s horizons. And those tunes will draw you in.