The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Arcade Fire Grows Comfortable With Fame On 'Everything Now'

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 28, 2017 6:14PM

Photo: Guy Aroch

Arcade Fire's last album Reflektor found the band struggling, caught between the world of mainstream stardom and wanting to remain the ragtag band of rebellious indie kids they started out as. the ensuing sprawl suffered from a lack of focus and the feeling that, at times, Arcade Fire was obfuscating their strengths simply to make the end product more challenging. And despite the retro party visual identity that accompanied the images and videos that supported that album release, in the end Reflektor felt like a true transition period.

On Everything Now, out Friday, Arcade Fire has stopped struggling against the walls of their self-imposed cocoon to gracefully slide out and across the dance floor. They've let go of the foggy rhythms and trading them in for glitzy disco beats, new wave surge, and island strut. and an energy that almost convinces you that Win Butler might actually be smiling and bobbing back and forth as he sings.*

2017_07_arcade_fire.jpg A hint that Arcade Fire was maybe OK with finally just letting go lay in the marketing that led up to this album's release. Some of it was ham-handed and a little too nudge-nudge, wink-wink. But certain components that read as satire ended up being honest announcements of the band's new intent. On a fake music website the group penned their own pre-review of Everything Now, saying:

Arcade Fire are like a goofier, less cool, extremely self-serious, and less danceable Daft Punk, and pointing out that the only connection between the groups is an aura of Frenchness—a vague and somewhat hard to pin down aura of Frenchness, in Arcade Fire’s case.

No fake news there. The new album is produced by Thomas Bangalter (French! And he's in Daft Punk.), along with Pulp's Steve Mackey. So there's that. And Arcade Fire has often been guilty of being a little too "extremely self-serious." And Everything Now may be less danceable than Daft Punk, but the fact that it's goofy and less cool make it all the more fun to dance to.

And I think the key here is that the album is meant to be danced to. Lyrically it deals with all the usual Arcade Fire concerns; society, maturity, mortality, love, and disappoint. Sure, the overall intent seems to be wrapping an anti-capitalist message in a festive envelope, but that approach works so well that I found myself glossing over what was being said outright and just focusing on the vibe the music was having as a whole. Everything Now is a non-stop dance party, literally. The final track "Everything Now (continued)" feeds seamlessly back into track number one, "Everything_Now (continued)" when you play the album on repeat. And the tracks are intertwined with shifting tempos, offering enough variety to keep the party going while still offering breathers, without any real dead air.

The struggle was real, and I suspect a little painful for Arcade Fire, but victory is a band who now knows how to have fun without having to be dumb.

Arcade Fire plays a sold-out show at The Metro this Saturday, before headlining the closing night of Lollapalooza Sunday night. Judging by the band's show in New York last night, Arcade Fire is pretty set on having a good time at these shows. Everything Now is out, well, now.

*We seem to have hit a new era where the indie heroes of the early aughts are all learning to indulge their inner divas (you're not imagining that The Killers are beginning to sound like Arcade Fire that are beginning to sound like LCD Soundsystem etcetera etcetera) and while some listener may view this as a betrayal or a less interesting path, I think it's way more fun than moaning and groaning about how awful being famous is. Maybe that's just me.