Arcade Fire’s new record, Everything Now was just released, and the initial critical reception has been, uh, not very good. Doyens of taste Pitchfork gave the record a mere 5.6, memorably slamming the work as an example of “Banksy disco”, while others criticised it for being overlong, overproduced and generally just overkill (and remember, Arcade Fire have been known to hit back at nasty reviews in the past).
But how does it fit into the broader scheme of Arcade Fire’s discography? That’s what we want to know. To that end, we’ve arranged the band’s albums from worst to best, churning through their certified stinkers to their most memorable hits in order to fit a multi-part, ever-fluctuating discography into a reductive listicle format. Yew!
Believe every bad word that you have heard about the new Arcade Fire record: it is a flabby, anemic work of intellectual masturbation, compelling only in the way that car crashes are compelling.
There are a few highpoints – the title track is pretty fun, if almost embarrassingly shiny and overproduced, and ‘Creature Comfort’ is an enjoyable blend of on-the-nose lyricism and groovy disco beats – but from misfire ‘Chemistry’ onwards, this is a bona fide garbage fire.
It’s as though Arcade Fire decided to conform to all those criticisms unfairly lobbed their way when they were just starting out – they have become exactly the painfully bland, pretentious pack of poseurs they were accused of being way back when Funeral was first released. Avoid this one like the plague.
While nothing if not ambitious, Reflektor sews the seeds that would eventually blossom into a bouquet of shit with Everything Now. It’s just too damn long, and the band’s preposterous requisitioning of indie electro tropes is flat out embarrassing.
There are too many bobbing synth lines; too many irritating, insultingly flat choruses, and the whole thing ultimately has about the impact of a hamster fart. That David Bowie feature is nothing to fuck with, though.
Neon Bible might have been the record that forged their reputation as stadium-filling provocateurs, but time has not been too kind to Arcade Fire’s most twee and simpering record. Sure, it features some of the best singles of their career – ‘My Body Is A Cage’ is unbeatable, all those years on – but taken as a whole it’s just a little bit naff.
When it comes down to it, Neon Bible is to indie pop records as Fight Club and Memento are to the western cinematic canon – good, but just a little bit too pretentious to totally love.
There are few records as aggressively warm-hearted as Funeral. Arcade Fire’s debut record, the work is one long, raw-edged adolescent howl: there’s little wonder why it lured so many lost and lonely teenagers under its spell. It just gets its audience; just understands every single one of their hopes and dreams and fascinations and fears.
It features lyrics to get tattooed across your skin, and melodies to be hummed for weeks, and in its bold sentimentality it might be one of the band’s most loveable records. After all, who can listen to a song like ‘Wake Up’ without feeling even a touch teary?
For some, Funeral is the band’s unbeatable masterpiece, but time is going some way to reveal The Suburbs as the band’s true masterpiece. So lean and single-minded as to almost be Arcade Fire’s mission statement, the record doesn’t feature a single dud track – from the heartache of ‘Deep Blue’ to rockabilly of ‘Month Of May’, every song is a keeper.
And, best of all, the album perfectly tempers the emotional with the intellectual – it’s either a pure, uncomplicated gut punch, or a scathing critique of gentrification and the horrors of suburbia. It’s up to you.