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Do you know what Arcade Fire means when they demand “everything now”?
Arcade Fire is under fire following the release of their fifth studio album, Everything Now. Music journalists and fans are questioning their motives. Their songs and stage setups use corporate branding techniques to ridicule big corporations. Even the name Everything Now is an ironic comment on the consumer culture’s demand for instant gratification.
But are they fighting blind consumption or just feeding it more? Does Arcade Fire even know what cause they’re fighting for?
Win Butler tells NPR that the album wasn’t particularly meant to convey any sort of take on human justice. “It’s not really about stuff [human consumption]—it’s about longing for connection and longing for love,” he says. “The actual record is really about people and it’s really, I would say, very direct and heartfelt.” He also explains that the framework of the album is conceptually based around making peace with the here and now.
On the release day for Everything Now Arcade Fire posted on their Facebook, “Happy Everything Now Launch Day!” Fans commented with extremely mixed reviews.
The top comment by Facebook user Andrew Holmes received 122 reactions and over 30 comments. He writes, “when you make an album so ironic that it loops back around to just being bad instead of ironically bad.” Responses to this comment varied from defending the band, to agreeing, but almost all still conveyed disappointment towards the new album.
One person responds to Holmes by saying, “it’s not bad for an album, but it’s bad for Arcade Fire,” while another writes, “I find it appalling how people think they made a weaker album on purpose just to mess with the fans—it’s not a great album, but it’s a good one and I believe they gave their best.”
When BTRtoday reached out looking for current Arcade Fire fans in the music industry, it was actually kind of a struggle. Most responded saying they haven’t been a fan since the debut album Funeral or that they just don’t care to listen to the group’s new material.
Special Projects Editor at Vice Brian McManus tells BTRtoday, “we have a music Slack channel at work and people talk about how much it sucks all the time.” McManus, also the music editor for Buzzfeed and Village Voice, added, “personally, I have not listened to one second of Arcade Fire.”
Everything Now has been the worst received album out of their entire discography. It got a mere 5.6 rating on Pitchfork, Spin deemed it “particularly bad,” describing it as “deeply cynical” and “joyless” and Noisey ran the headline “Arcade Fire Still Rules, So It’s a Bummer That ‘Everything Now’ Doesn’t.”
Phil Witmer of Noisey compared the band’s recent NYC show to the Kendall Jenner Pepsi catastrophe. “This show… is an example of big media not understanding what it is that people find compelling or necessary viewing about a world in flux,” Witmer writes. “The unfocused attempt at satire through the stage design only amplified the main problem with Everything Now as a whole; it regurgitates the budding dystopia of 2017 back at its audience, with barely any commentary, insight, or—importantly—solutions.”
However, the album made it to #1 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums, so it definitely has fans somewhere. Their debut album is still highly praised and their third album The Suburbs won the Grammy in 2011 for Album of The Year.
Arcade Fire might be a great band, but they aren’t everything now.