Waiting for Arcade Fire’s new music
Anna Falk | Monday, April 4, 2022
Arcade Fire is a very nostalgic band for me. My dad used to love playing their music in his old Honda Accord, and eight-year-old me used to hate listening to them. I’ve since changed my mind.
To newcomers unaware of their music: They can be weird. However, this is what makes them so exciting.
The Canadian band’s first LP, “Funeral,” was released in 2004 and highly endorsed by talented musical acts like David Bowie. They’ve been quite prolific over the course of the past two decades, and they released two new singles last month — “The Lightning I” and “The Lightning II.”
To me, I was quite surprised by this release. Their most recent LP “Everything Now” received generally favorable reviews, but I was not impressed given the trajectory of their past works. With this album, Arcade Fire decided to make a brief entry into the compendium of albums commenting on the digital world and its effect on society. The production utilized more electronic components than previous albums, and some songs on the LP seemed unneeded. The new singles harken back more to the sound of their previous work, and for that I am pleased.
The band has also gone through a lot of individual projects, as well as the coming and going of band members. Currently, the line-up consists of husband-wife duo Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, Richard Reed Perry, Tim Kingsbury and Jeremy Gara, but many members have bid the band adieu. Butler’s brother Will Butler, who had previously been one of the core members of the group, announced his departure from the band in 2021 after the completion of their next LP “We.”
So what does this mean for Arcade Fire? Their new singles give a bit of a hint to this answer.
“The Lightning I” and “The Lightning II” follow a pattern familiar to Arcade Fire fans. As seen in all of their albums since “The Suburbs,” the group likes to have multiple songs make parts of a whole, often differing in the tone of the music, but connected lyrically to emphasize a certain dichotomy or make commentary about a particular concept.
This is no different for the singles. Both center on the imagery of lightning with different interpretations and contexts in each song. “The Lightning I” has a seemingly more uplifting and motivational tone, showing the possibility of renewal and cathartic release. Despite “The Lightning II” having a faster pace than its other half, it describes an uncertainty about the lightning’s timing and meaning, leaving the listener with a similar feeling and a question about what “the lightning” is.
In terms of the instrumentation, there are many elements reminiscent of “Funeral” and “The Suburbs,” which are two of my favorite Arcade Fire albums. It feels more organic, and you can tell the progression of the band’s sound while understanding it in the context of their previous work. In my personal opinion, they are back on track with some of the sounds they do best. “Everything Now” was quite a deviation, but one can tell that it has positively influenced the singles’ sound.
The new album, titled “We,” will be released on May 6. I have a lot of hope for the direction that this LP is going in, and I expect a lot of long-time fans will feel the same. Despite their relative silence in the news and on social media platforms over the past few years, I expect their return will be explosive.
Title: “The Lightning I, II”
Artist: Arcade Fire
If you like: “Funeral,” “The Suburbs”
Shamrocks: 4.5 out of 5