Bleak Themes Set In Pop » Manila Bulletin Entertainment

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AUDIO JUNKIE:

Grammy winning band Arcade Fire is just full of surprises. For their recently released full length album titled “Everything Now,” vocalists Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, together with the rest of the group nix rock in favor of dance and pop.

Arcade Fire (Instagram)

The title track had us believing the Montreal, Canada band are on a moody art rock tangent, until the unmistakable ABBA-esque strain seeps through, knocking us off our sensibilities. Not that it’s bad – it actually works.

Knowing the group is not just some fluff pop act makes all the difference. Traces of David Byrne and Bowie are evident in Butler’s singing, framing the song’s seeming faux contentment.

The theme continues in “Signs Of Life,” a post-disco, Talking Heads-sounding dance pop about the dreary repetition of day-to-day living. And in “Creature Comfort” the band captures that modern day oxymoron of fame seeking, yet anxiety-ridden millennials, giving a nod to classic ’80s synth pop a la New Order at the same time. As Butler (chorused by Chassagne) exhorts, “God, make me famous /if you can’t just make it painless.”

Arcade Fire takes on a different style on almost every track. In “Chemistry,” the band mixes ’70s rock grooves with Jamaican-inflected stabs. Ditto with the synth-drenched island feel of “Peter Pan.”

And there’s “Infinite Content” which rocks out like a Strokes track at first before doing a back flip as a country ballad.

Official album art (mb.com.ph)

Official album art

Dizzying as it may seem, the message that Butler, Chassagne, guitaristkeyboardist Richard Reed Parry, bassist Tim Kingsbury, keyboardist William Butler and drummer Jeremy Gara is driving at is clear: “All your money is spent on infinite content.”

Other notables are the playful synth pop number “Electric Blue” which features the Blondie-inspired falsettos of Chassagne; the strutting, Franz Ferdinand-inflected “Good God Damn” with its catch phrase “Maybe there’s a good God, damn;” And the Peter Gabriel-reminiscent inspired ballad “We Don’t Deserve Love.”

In ditching the obvious rock route, and deliberate use of dance, pop and in-between sounds. Arcade Fire managed to stay true to their art rock persona with their credibility intact.

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