Review: Everything Now – the 50/50 album
So, before I get stuck into it I just want to let anyone reading this know I’ve probably listened to the record a fair bit less than you because I didn’t have the chance to do so until only just seven days ago. Just so you know where I’m at as I write this.
Basically all the bands I really love have went through a phase in their careers where I don’t really care for their output, or content I should perhaps say since that’s where we’re at now – as I’m sure you know. That phase can last an album cycle, two album cycles, or for years and years. I mean, David Bowie released records for several years in the 80s which I just can’t listen to despite being a big fan. And that’s fine! As Win Butler himself pointed out, an artist should never care what their audience might think about the art. Anyway, I think this record signals the start of a phase like that for me with Arcade Fire. What’s important for me during those phases is that there are at least a few redeemable qualities and good songs on the records, and not just a giant pile of unlistenable songs. Fortunately, that it is not.
For a band that pride themselves on creating album experiences, rather than singles, this is the first time in their career I feel the album doesn’t hold together, and doesn’t strongly convey a message/feeling as a whole. Unsubstantial I think is the word I’m looking for. Not helped either by the uninspiring theme of the record – the “noise” surrounding everything happening.
I can pretty much draw a sharp line and divide the songs I like and the songs I don’t like/see the point of on this record. Doing so I end up with half an album of songs which are good/great, and when a band is in a phase you don’t really like I’ll take that! What’s important now is that first of all the live shows are great and perhaps can enhance the songs I don’t care for, and in the longer term that they find their voice and identity again as a band. Right now (outside of a live setting) I don’t really know what that is.
I have to hold them to a higher standard than this album, it’s just about passable. Not exactly what you hope for after four years. What really throws me off is how the album gets split up into two “ends” with the run of Peter Pan, Chemistry, and the Infinite Content songs. Those are just not good enough for me.
Win’s lyrics feel, in general, just like the overall feeling of the record unsubstantial. You’re better than “love is hard, sex is easy”, “it’s always darkest before the dawn” etc – we all know you are.
So, now that I have got most of that out of the way I can begin with what I do like about it. The lead single is brilliant. It’s just such a tune, and will live on for years and years in the bands live shows I’m sure. Creature Comfort is just such a banger! It bangs. It bangs even harder live. Electric Blue sounds like nothing the band’s ever done before. It’s amazing to hear Régine sing that crazy-high over the melancholy vibe of the song. Put Your Money on Me sounds like if the band had transported itself inside the Stranger Things world, somehow. We Don’t Deserve Love’s chorus is probably what if I’d choose if someone forced me to pick my one favourite thing on the record.
Judging from the band’s history this phase could very well be over by the time they next release an album – something I quite obviously hope it will be. However, that their exceptional song-writing ability shows in a few tunes is something I take a lot of heart from. It’s still there!
Put Your Money on Me
We Don’t Deserve Love
Signs of Life
Good God Damn