Review: Arcade Fire – ‘Everything Now’

Have you ever watched Win Butler’s appearances at the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game? What a bizarrely incongruous thing for the frontman of the most successful indie rock band of the 21st century to do, bobbing around the court with diminutive comedians and lesser Cabinet members. Butler, who actually won the MVP one year, comes off like a particularly domineering player. He calls for the ball when he’s way out of position, forces passes even LeBron James might call a stretch, takes ill-advised shots with the shamelessness of caffeinated Xbox teens. He doesn’t look like much fun to play with, even before you factor in the urban legends of him literally stealing the ball off the court.

Arcade Fire aren’t much fun these days, either. Their new record, Everything Now, is particularly bad, cementing their status as a band who used to be good—“I only like the early stuff, really”—before the members have even hit middle-age. Once, Arcade Fire were the natural successors to U2, purveyors of ultra-earnest stadium rock whose buoyant melodies were undergirded by resonant mantras about seeking meaning in this cruel, callous world. Wake up! they chanted, backed by a million millennial whoops. Now, they’ve traded in their guitars for synthesizers, replaced starry-eyed sentiments with cynical jeremiads. They’ve become the worst kind of celebrity artist, finger-pointers blaming the kids and the corporations and the websites—everyone but the band itself, who sit up high with the haughtiness of a message board moderator.

Everything Now was preceded by an ad campaign in which they swore allegiance to a phony multinational corporation, hawked Ritalin pills as cereal, sold corny merch, poked fun at their widely-mocked dress code by inventing an even more draconian one, and published an overbearing, negative review of the record as the website Stereoyum. Some of this was amusing, or at least accurate: the byline of that Stereoyum review was “Jeremy…

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