Sunday, May 29, 2022

Record of the Month

I figured I'd do a monthly 'what I'm listening to' kind of thing. This could be viewed as a lame placeholder kind of post. And probably it is. But it's my blog! So there!

These may or may not be newly released disks. They might not even be a good disk - just what is been in heavy rotation in my car (as usually the iPod is playing anywhere else).  

I said a month or so ago, I wasn't going to rush out and get the new album from Arcade Fire, WE.  And I didn't. I waited two whole days. 

No, I didn't really sample it ahead of time. But as you can see by my lack of 2022 "Record" posts, I haven't been buying new music. Period. I figured spending $10 wasn't that bad. 

The band could have recorded a 40 minute note-for-note version of "Kokomo" and that still would have surpassed anything off their last disk, Everything Now.  As luck would have to - they wouldn't / didn't have to. 

I think the disk can be summed up into - or broken down by- four lines of their own lyrics on this disk: 

"don't believe the hype"

#truth.  Arcade Fire came out extremely strong with their first two disks. Original and innovative. They were a victim of their own critical success. It was almost impossible to keep up with that nouveau-legacy. And they didn't. Not exactly.  They had moments, but not full albums of those moments.  WE at least has stronger and better moments than possibly even Reflekor or the Suburbs

".....let me say it again, no one's perfect"

No one is. And AF are not, not this disk anyways, but they have strong strong moments.  The disk is basically broken into five songs, though four of them are two-parters. Totally dig "Age of Anxiety I and II". The are the strongest songs on the disk, though the piano intro to the album (and song) somewhat sets the tone for the entire album. 

I love most of "Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)". The song. The message. The delivery.........except for "do-do-do / do-do-do (repeat x5).  It's just lazy writing.  I have come to really enjoy "the Lightening I and II".  The initial listen to the first release from this album didn't do much for me, but it has grown on me. 

"please don't quit on me / I won't quit on you"

I think this is safe to say this could easily be a lyric from Win Butler to his wife, or perhaps to his entire fan base. Because I gotta tell you, I had a REALLY hard time with getting through Everything Now five times, desperately trying to like anything off it, before just shelving it, and re-evaluating my connection to the band and their work. 

"some you win / some you lose" 

You might have noticed I liked "Unconditional I", but said nothing of "II".  Maybe I'm in the minority - maybe not - but I find RĂ©gine Chassagne as a lead vocalist, unlistenable. Her Yoko meets Britany vocal ability (not style......ability!) is squeaky chalk on a board cringe worthy. 

That said - on WE, she has used her background skills so much better than in previous disks. I didn't say "good", I said "better".  

While I would have been happy if she had only been relegated to the five "yeah"s in "Anxiety II (Rabbit Hole)", she doesn't completely blow it on the musical break in that song - though I still am not a fan. And her work on "the Lightening" isn't turn-off-able. Her vocal is skippable enough for "Unconditional II". The presence of Peter Gabriel can't really save that song. 

I'm still not sure what to think about "End of the Empire I-IV".  "I-III" is just generic.  "IV"?  Not a fan. It might be ok without the backing vocals.......maybe?  But when Butler sings "fuck season 5", it seems lame, but then Everything Now was their fifth album, so maybe he's talking about that. If so, I'm on board with the thought - but not the delivery. 

Musically, WE is a lot more straightforward than their other disks. There aren't a lot of risks or a lot of experimentation, but it's a sort of redemption. 

Some you win, some you lose...........and this time, they kind of won. Even if it is just a nose. 

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