Thursday, June 23, 2022

Album Review: Arcade Fire - WE

Arcade Fire
**and1/2 out of *****

On the sixth studio album WE from Arcade Fire the band is looking to meld their dramatic pop anthems and dance laden 80's rock, both of which the band has reveled in on past releases. That fusing is natural extension for the band on WE, but the end result never rises to the outfits lofty past standards. 

The album starts with piano laced, breathy vocal offering "Age of Anxiety I" which keeps a tight pulsing, but never goes over the top disco. While the tension fits the songs title and lyrics, going over the top is precisely what Arcade Fire does best and this track feels on the verge of exploding but never does. It's sister song "Age of Anxiety II (Rabbit Hole)" is the most 80's sounding effort with a neon glare and laser flares, but the track runs on too long and never pumps up the jams enough to slam a dance floor. 

Weepy vocals from Win Butler dominate the dramatic "End of the Empire I–III" as piano and sax fill up the less successful "End of the Empire IV (Sagittarius A*)". At this point the album seems sluggish and overwrought but the second half improves Arcade Fire's sounds.

The highlight offering is "The Lightning I, II" capturing what this group does best. The violins layer the sound while keyboards and percussion swell as the track kicks up into a straight rocking anthem with power and effecting grace. "Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)" continues the positive sounds as the stripped down folk start is catchy and a powerful lyric from a parent to a child, building and swelling with the bands patented sounds. 

Less successful is the more dance laden "Unconditional II (Race and Religion)" with lead vocals from RĂ©gine Chassagne, also featuring Peter Gabriel who adds backing vocals to the lightly bumping track. Surprisingly the album closing title track goes for underwhelming subtilty instead of over the top grandiose. The band has been open about their searching for the sound and with this being the final album from multi-instrumentalist Will Butler, perhaps there are new things on the horizon but as it stands WE is a hit and miss affair from the long running outfit.   

Support the band, buy the album and peep some video below:

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