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There’s a pleasant irony in the way Arcade Fire’s most devout followers first heard their new song, “Everything Now.” Shortly after the band released it on vinyl in Spain at Primavera Festival merch tables, fans began circulating a YouTube video filmed on an iPhone of the 12” spinning in a record store, drowned out by people talking over it. It was the kind of promo you can’t pay for (not to mention a metaphor Win Butler would kill for), with every aspect of the song feeling cryptic and mysterious. Is that the riff from “Dancing Queen?” Is that a fucking pan flute? When will we be able to play this song on our turntables and talk over it?
The title track from Arcade Fire’s upcoming fifth album is finally out, and it’s another grand, sweeping statement from a band who doesn’t know how to communicate any other way. But maybe the most gratifying thing about “Everything Now” is that—after the heady, complex dance music on Reflektor—the band’s just sailing here. The disco beat and ABBA strings certainly help, but, for a song that confronts our need to obtain everything immediately, ”Everything Now” succeeds by virtue of patience, replacing the peaks and crescendos of previous Arcade Fire anthems with one momentous rush.
Of course, the irony of a song lamenting our need for overstimulation and immediate gratification coming from one of the generation’s most grandiose rock bands is not lost on the musicians. Win Butler’s lyrics are searing and self-reflexive, even if his delivery remains wholly earnest. Here, he invert the “us vs. them” structure of his previous narratives with something more vulnerable, owning up to his complicity and achieving a new kind of catharsis. “We turn the speakers up ‘til they break,” he repeatedly sings, “‘Cuz every time you smile it’s a fake.” As the music glides on, Butler sounds desperate for connection: He’s never had more at his fingertips, yet he’s never seemed more lost.