Arcade Fire – WE (Album Review)

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.

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aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

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