July 28, 2022 Arcade Fire – WE (Album Review)
One of Canada’s well-revered musical treasures, Arcade Fire has always been in the forefront of Indie Rock, courtesy of its uniqueness, innovativeness, and cohesiveness–both on record and during live performances.
The cryptic and quirky collective was formed in 2001, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Its debut album, 2004’s Funeral, was among the records that amalgamated the genre’s place in the great taxonomy of Rock music. Two decades, five albums, and countless gigs and awards later, Arcade Fire now emerges again with its latest offering.
Released on Friday, May 6, 2022, via Columbia Records, Arcade Fire’s sixth effort, simply titled WE, is partially inspired by the novel of the same title by the Russian Author Yevgeny Zamyatin–about “a world of harmony and conformity within a united totalitarian state.”
Produced by Nigel Godrich and Arcade Fire’s very own Win Butler (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, mandolin, percussion) and Régina Chassagne (keyboards, piano, accordion, vocals, orchestral arrangements), WE marks the band’s first studio album in five long years. Consisting of ten songs in total, it starts with the slow, somber buildup of the piano-laden “Age of Anxiety” I & II–apt dramatic openers that soothe and caress the listener like a nascent heartbeat. This is then followed by the epic pair “End of the Empire I-III” and “End of the Empire IV (Sagittarius),” which exudes with ornate orchestral sensibilities.
Additionally, “The Lightning I” is a change of style and pace–a Post-Punk ballad that thunder-bursts afterward into another driving stomper–the sequel “The Lightning II,” which will fit well onto a playlist that includes The Killers’ “Spaceman,” The Armoury Show’s “We Can Be Brave Again,” and U2’s “Vertigo.” And then there is “Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)”–an excursion to the calm, prairie-warm moods of Indie Folk; it then switches quickly to the dancefloor-worthy “Unconditional II (Race and Religion),” featuring Peter Gabriel backing up Chassagne on vocals.
Finally, Butler and Chassagne and the rest of Arcade Fire – Richard Reed Parry (guitar, bass, backing vocals), Tim Kingsbury (guitars, bass, backing vocals), Jeremy Gara (drums, percussion), and Will Butler (keyboards, bass, backing vocals) – close their new effort with its title-track which is another foray into Indie Folk territory.
The pandemic has really brighten the creative and prolific streaks of many artists. In the case of Arcade Fire, WE is its follow up to 2017’s progressively illustrious Everything Now. It is another flight to a different yet familiar soundscape, which what makes Arcade Fire’s music interesting and easy to dig. That is why Cryptic Rock gives WE 4 out of 5 stars.