ALBUM REVIEW: Arcade Fire, WE
I really, really wanted to enjoy this new Arcade Fire record. My first ever vinyl records were their debut Funeral and their 2013 shining opus Reflektor. To see them ascend from epic folk rock to deeply reverent and rocking Springsteen-core to soaring, Godly disco was a major highlight of my high school years. With Everything Now and its subsequent failed coliseum tour, the band set their ambitions way too high without hitting the mark musically. Ever since then, they have been on a downward trajectory and it’s made me very sad. With some years removed from Everything Now and the surprise announcement of WE, it really seemed like the Canadian collective was headed for another classic. “The Lightning I & II” are superb singles and got me even more excited for what was to come.
Unfortunately, I don’t have very much to say about the album as a whole. The concept feels pretty basic from my perspective, especially for a group that had been so sharp for so long. Observations about “the anxieties of society” and the American empire coming to an end have been done to death at this point. Soul Glo was able to provide a fresh spin on these topics and more this year with their amazing record Diaspora Problems. Lyrics like “I unsubscribe/This ain’t no way of life” just immediately turn me off to any other musically sound aspect of the song. I can’t stand when an artist shoots for profound and lands on below basic. Additionally, the structure is too pretentious with song chapters and the music is re-hashes of their catalog. There are some highlights for me personally, including the Régine Alexandra Chassagne-led “Unconditional II (Race and Religion)” and “Age of Anxiety I”, but for the most part, Arcade Fire have done and can do better.