Nobody does dour euphoria like Arcade Fire.
The band's new single is Everything Now, a seventies disco-rock up-swoop that twirls and swirls but lyrically never smiles. It kicks off with a moody prelude before breaking into bright piano lines and a rump-shaking rhythm. ABBA is being held captive in the recording studio basement – who will rescue the Dancing Queen?
After the voodoo boogaloo of its previous album (2013's excellent, misunderstood Reflektor), Win Butler and the Montreal-based rock troupe are still in a groove. Co-produced with Daft Punk's Thomas Bangalter and Pulp's Steve Mackey, Everything Now is the musically effervescent title track to the band's fifth album, due out on July 28.
But where ABBA promised that we could dance, jive and have the time of our lives, a sarcastic Butler promises nothing as he clenches his voice and bemoans the current state of a cluttered, insatiable world:
Every inch of sky's got a star
Every inch of skin's got a scar
I guess we've got everything now
Arcade Fire would be a great dance partner, if only Butler would stop peeing on our leg with his gloomy outlook.
(Speaking of dancing partners, Arcade Fire has a new one, having just signed a two-album deal with Columbia Records.)
Typically cryptically, on the day before the song's release, the band told its nearly one million Twitter followers to "stay tuned for Infinite Content." We now know Infinite Content is the name of an upcoming North American tour that visits eight Canadian cities in the fall.
Infinite Content is a concept. Last year at a Red Bull Music Academy event in Montreal, Butler spoke on a variety of topics, including the condition of the music industry. "The sad thing about the Spotify world, that's been totally eviscerated. Ten-thousand streams is like 25 cents now, while back then selling that much was enough to be in a band and do it seriously. [The] weird economy of the whole thing is the tough one [we] continue to have a problem with, the infinite-content model that we're in."
On Everything Now, Butler freestyles over the chorus, disdainfully singing about filling every room in the house with the things he can't live without. It's compulsive consumerism. It's volume. It's about not leaving space for things that are actually important.
In the physical world, there's a rush to fill empty spaces. In a digital world, there's no such thing as too much: "Every song that I've ever heard is playing at the same time," Butler sings. "It's absurd."
But as Butler shakes his head, the music is upbeat and oblivious to his concerns. A fife is tootled. The fragmented bass blurbs are unsinkable. A concert crowd sings a blissful round of "na na na."
Awash in the disco-ball glitter, Butler frowns and warns. But for the Dancing Queen, the night is young and the music's high. We want everything and we want it now.