The Internet gave life to Arcade Fire.
In the mid-2000s this indie-rock band from Montreal broke out as one of the earliest beneficiaries of an online music culture engineered for hype. Websites such as Pitchfork and Stereogum wrote rapturously about the group, while fans in the thousands downloaded its songs from the MP3 blogs that helped drive music discovery in the era before digital streaming.
A decade and change later, that same platform for endless stimulation has begun to feel like a kind of death to Win Butler, Arcade Fireâs eagerly grandiose frontman.
âEvery song that Iâve ever heard is playing at the same time / Itâs absurd!â Butler sings in the title track from the bandâs new album, âEverything Now.â Drowning in the river of data gushing from his phone, he goes on to complain, âEvery inch of space in my heart is filled with something Iâll never start.â
Another tune, âCreature Comfort,â describes the bleak aspirations of kids whoâve grown up in the YouTube Age â âGod, make me famous / If you canât, just make it painlessâ â while a third, âSigns of Life,â admits to finding none to speak of.
Perhaps Butler shouldâve looked inward.
For all its anxiety about the smothering, alienating effects of the Internet, Arcade Fireâs fifth studio album actually sounds remarkably lively â far from the dour, stripped-down folk record we mightâve gotten from a band gone proudly off the grid.
Instead, âEverything Nowâ is a critique of too-much-ness that cleverly embraces the very overload it laments.
Produced by the band along with collaborators including Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk and Portisheadâs Geoff Barrow, it combines disparate styles and textures and references with an almost giddy intensity: pan flute and spaghetti-western strings over juicy disco bass…