Arcade Fire Goes Disco

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Arcade Fire has released two new singles in support of their forthcoming album “Everything Now.” The first – their title track – is a disco-era throw back pointed towards the “everything-nowness” of the internet age: in particular, the consumerism that the internet facilitates.

I don’t think any of us knew when we were signing up for Gmail accounts that we’d be getting direct marketing of things we write in our private emails,” explained band leader Win Butler.

The song’s poignant lyrics separate the song from the genre, however Disco is a distinctly consumerist genre, so it may seem like an odd direction. However, the song does border satirical critique. At the same time it is embedded with several humanistic elements. Particularly, its flute solo – sampled from Francis Bebey’s “The Coffee Cola Song” – which is a single note flute. The musician’s voice creates the variations you hear.

 

“Some people thought it’s a pan-flute,” said Butler in an interview, “but it’s actually a human voice.”

Similarly, the grand ‘everything now’ refrain was designed to include the audience when the band performs live.¬†“Everything Now” also features the under-utilized theremin.

The intro of “Everything Now” connects to the song with an inaudible string of shouting, laughing, and crying voices, which – along with it’s somber tempo – creates a tension that is relieved instantly by the song’s bright, catchy melody.

With “Everything Now” Arcade Fire inverts the disco genre, using its well-known cotton-candy characteristics to create contrast in the song.¬†Butler’s register – serious and somber – is out of sync with the song’s celebratory melody, and its joyous refrain. Which, coupled with the song’s subject matter, maintains the tension established with the intro.

Thomas Bangalter (Daft Punk), Steven Mackey, Markus Dravs, as well as Arcade Fire themselves co-produced the album.

Creature Comfort

Arcade Fire’s second single, “Creature Comfort,” sounds exactly how you’d imagine an Arcade Fire song featuring a keytar would sound. Musically, “Creature Comfort” departs from the ABBA-esque disco flare of “Everything Now,” however the band doubles down – disco-flare-wise – with its accompanied video.

“Creature Comfort” is a particularly poignant track focusing on the negative effects of consumerism on individuals and the contradictions it creates with respect to image and reality.

Arcade Fire tends to shape their albums around an encompassing conceptual theme — “The Suburbs” being the most obvious.”Reflector,” their 2013 release, is based around the Kierkegaard’s “The Present Age.” It’s characterized (simply put) by talk without action, and irreverence/negativity surrounding action. For “Everything Now” it appears to be the beauty, contradictions, and corruption of our hyper-connected world.

“Creature Comfort” displays this well. The lyrics address mental illness, while the supporting music is a multi-chorus dance track.

“On and on I don’t know what I want/On and on I don’t know if I want it,” sing Butler and Regine Chassagne. Butler sings most of the song in a near scream, while giving certain lyrics – “Just make it painless” – a soft register, displaying both anger and vulnerability. The song also touches a broader theme at the root of the issues the song addresses:

“We’re the bones under your feet/The white lie of American prosperity/We wanna dance but we can’t feel the beat/Im a liar, don’t doubt the sincerity.”

There’s a lot to unpack in this verse, however it essentially addresses marginalization created by what popular culture presents as success.

I Give You Power

Arcade Fire and Mavis Staples released a stand alone single – “I Give You Power” – earlier this year. The song was in direct response to President Trump’s inauguration. The refrain being a reminder of who exactly holds the power in the democratic dynamic.

“I think it’s really easy to get sucked into sitting on your couch and checking your news feed and watching things on CNN,” Butler told the BBC.

“Everything Now” will be Arcade Fire’s first album since 2013’s “Reflector”. “Reflector” was released to critical acclaim (9.2 Pitchfork, 4/5 Rolling Stone), while also expanding Arcade Fire’s sound. Which is something they have done consistently with each successive album.

“Everything Now” appears as though it will build off that expansion while meshing their indie sensibilities with elements of electronic music.

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“Everything Now” will release July 28th.

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