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This week we’ve reviewed Arcade Fire’s fourth album, along with Lana Del Ray and WAXAHATCHEE
Arcade Fire | Everything Now (Columbia) | Rated 9
Arcade Fire has successfully managed to remain both critically adored and commercially successful. Following an album which topped the charts in the US, the UK and several other countries, it would have been tempting for them to replicate their previous record, Reflekor. But instead, another concept album appears.
The concept is subtle. The instant gratification, stream everything, too much choice world we live in is the focus of lyricist and lead singer Win Butler’s musings. It’s a warning in the same vein as “We Used to Wait” from their third album The Suburbs. Tracks repeat themselves deliberately. The desperation of “Put Your Money On Me” towards the end of the both easy to relate to lyrically, and forced home by being sung by Butler umpteen times. The track carries a groove not unlike a Wild Beasts track.
There is a distinct Abba-vibe to the album – see the glorious string intro to the title track as a good example. And an honourable mention should go to “Everything Now” for the (presumably) deliberate use of the pan flute part from “The Coffee Cola Song”. Much of this must be down to Thomas Bangalter (one half of Daft Punk) being on production duties.
“Signs of Life” is an absolute blast, from the strings and hand clap combination to the bassline. Even the lyric “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, sometimes a Sunday” can’t derail it.
Arcade Fire’s live show euphoria has translated across to this album. It’s hard to resist the crowd chanting on the title track. It’s easy to dismiss this as playing to the gallery, but that misses the point. Enjoy it. There’s not many bands around like them.
Track Pick: “Put Your Money On Me”
Lana Del Rey | Lust for Life (Interscope) | Rated: 4
Lana Del Rey’s fourth album shows no sign of her doe-eyed, breathy and miserable character changing. If anything, she’s less interesting than ever. ‘Sadcore’ lyrics everywhere, as ever, but with the music returning to the same depressingly low standard as her debut.
Ludicrous lyrics are plenty. In “Lust For Life”, featuring everyone’s favourite male moaner, The Weekend, she sighs, “My boyfriend’s back, and he’s cooler than ever”. Personally, I think the guy from “Blue Jeans” on her first record was much cooler sounding, somehow making her eyes burn while wearing the Jeremy Clarkson-esque blue jeans and white shirt combo. She naturally compares him to James Dean.
Where the second and third albums Lana Del Rey released (Ultraviolence and Honeymoon) were positive progressions, this album is entirely regressive. The fact she has fallen back into the same sorta-hip-hop production as on her first record, which dwarfed the subsequent two in sales, is not likely to be a coincidence. The songs blend into each other and are instantly forgettable.
There are redeeming moments on the album. Ludicrous as the lyrics are, “Lust For Life” is catchy. “Love” is a beguiling track, and a rare moment where Del Rey isn’t whining about how life is a bummer. It’s a shame there isn’t more of that as, sadly, the album nosedives from there, finds its level and is just a bit boring.
Track Pick: “Love”
WAXAHATCHEE |Out In The Storm (Merge) | Rated: 8.5
An engaging and strident break up album. The record shouldn’t only be seen through that prism, however. Katie Crutchfield’s lyrics may be the centre of attention, but the album is phenomenally recorded.
A track like “Sparks Fly” could almost be a filler track on any indie album. However, the vocals, lyrics and the almost militaristic drumming held together to by an acoustic guitar, as Crutchfield sings, “A disaster, dignified”, ahead of the chorus, you expect the track to shift a gear. The fact that it doesn’t and restrains itself (barely), is a testament to the confidence of the musician and the dignity shown in the face of the end of relationship.
An honourable mention should go to “Recite Remorse” one of the loveliest track of the year, an electric organ and Crutchfield’s voice. As she sings “I know for you it’s easy for you to walk away” distant drums join in and the track becomes both complete and devastating.
Track Pick: “Recite Remorse”