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We, the sixth studio album from indie rock legends Arcade Fire, is an improvement from their critically controversial 2017 record, even if not a true return to form.
The previous project from the group, Everything Now, while offering a few singles with staying power, was almost unlistenable at points. This dip in quality was disappointing for the band, which made four of the most critically praised albums of the 2000s and 2010s.
This new record breathes a little life into the waning band.
A track like “The Lightning II” is reminiscent of the fast-paced, self-reflective indie rock of their first album, Funeral. The song pairs introspective lyrics of existential dread and despair with an overwhelming rock sound that almost masks the message to unattentive listeners.
“Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)” is another lively indie rock song, which this time swaps out the personal critiques for a message of hope and advice for the child of the lead singer, Win Butler, and his wife, backup vocalist Régine Chassagne. It effectively creates a welcoming atmosphere, one fit for a young child.
There are also softer moments on the project.
“End of The Empire I-III” is a well intentioned soft-rock song. The track gives a social critique of the falseness of American society. It sounds reminiscent of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” even if it doesn’t accomplish nearly the same feat.
The title track of the album also provides the same light rock, but this time, instead of analysis of society, the song comments on the despair of isolation and the excitement of connection. Unlike their previous album, which was focused on more palatable synth pop, this track, like the entire project, is a return to more dense and intense rock sound.
That’s not to say there isn’t any synth pop on the record, however.
Both “Age of Anxiety I” and “Age of Anxiety II (Rabbit Hole)” are full of electronic sounds. While these songs may sound like they fit with their previous project, the band has certainly improved on the placement and use of synths in their music, utilizing them in a supporting manner rather than as the centerpiece of the track.
While the album is a solid return to form for Arcade Fire, the record doesn’t seem to impress like their previous projects. Their earlier works – Funeral, Neon Bible, and The Suburbs – were boundary-pushing indie rock.
Those classics set the mood for the new indie scene, while We seems to be following the mood instead. The album is an enjoyable listen, and maybe even worth going back to for fans of the group, but for the general listener, the album is another nice, generic piece of indie music.
We also suffers from some of the same issues as Everything Now, most notably the failed social commentary. Like their previous album, which was littered with various surface-level and superficial social notes, some of the tracks on the album fail to push an effective societal message.
Overall, while the album is relatively simple, fans of Arcade Fire will most likely get enjoyment out of the record.