Essential New Music: Arcade Fire’s “Everything Now”

Arcade Fire’s tightest and tersest album since 2004’s Funeral is by far its least ambitious, and the band is cool to riff on this, with two transcendentally goofy, back-to-back versions (one punk, one country) of a song called “Infinite Content.” But maybe we shouldn’t take Arcade Fire’s satirical abilities (and this newfound Infinite Jest-like fascination) for granted when 2006’s Neon Bible was one of the subtler digs at the Iraq War. For the most part, the band’s mode circa 2017 is bumping, thwacking synth-pop like Tegan And Sara, Paramore and so many other lost indie rockers. Daft Punk itself helps out here and there, which is analogous to James Murphy manning the boards behind 2013’s Reflektor; Murphy’s a purveyor of wordy, one-foot-in-one-foot-out dance music in scare quotes, and his collaboration awkwardly shuffled itself as such. Daft Punk rocks actual houses (including Murphy’s) and encrypts such conceptuality behind the grooves.

Everything Now is focused as such, and it’s nice to give these eggheads’ brains a break and their asses a workout. “Electric Blue” and full-on Gary Numan dream “Creature Comfort” are good grooves indeed, without much aspiration toward being anything greater—which for this hopelessly grandiose band is a breath of fresh air, to offset Win Butler donning a faux-Murphy inflection to name-check girls who cut themselves on the latter. Closer to greatness are the “Stand By Me”-style chord changes of “Peter Pan” and chilling closer “We Don’t Deserve Love,” a timely shaming anthem for Trump: “If you can’t see the forest for the trees/Just burn them all down.”

Dan Weiss