August 13, 2022

“It’s an age of doubt/ and I doubt we’ll determine it out,” sings Win Butler on the primary line of “Age of Anxiousness I,” the opening monitor of Arcade Hearth’s sixth studio album, WE (out Friday, Could sixth). From the very begin, issues are bleak and contradictory; the track basically describes a full-on panic assault, regardless that the music beneath it’s synth-covered, electrifying dance-rock, and because the monitor involves a detailed, Butler trades repetitions of the phrases “It’s all about you” and “It’s not about you.”

The latter contradiction is an important one within the context of WE: There’s a deep consideration from the band in regards to the all-or-nothing cultural mentality that we discover ourselves in in 2022, and the separation of “I” and “We” is what makes up the core of the album. The primary half of WE exactly displays the egocentric, anxiety-ridden habits of contemporary life, our self-destructive tendencies that result in dissociation, apathy, and anguish; the latter half, then, is solely liberating — it focuses on unity, the facility of the collective, household, and provides a beacon of hope.

If these ideas really feel weighty and a bit of too massive, then it should be an Arcade Hearth album. From the outset, with their landmark debut, Funeral, almost 18 years in the past, Arcade Hearth have been working with Capital Letters, in search of to mirror the most important feelings with ardour and poise. All through their storied profession, you would argue that they’ve efficiently merged an arena-sized fervor with an acute, artwork rock sensibility, and this technique has arguably solely failed them as soon as — 2017’s Every little thing Now.

However so much can change in 5 years: Every little thing Now investigated our tradition of extra and capitalism within the Trump period with a tongue-in-cheek high quality, however the majority of its songs ended up being forgettable and, at instances, hole. WE, then again, investigates lots of the similar fraught ideological ideas, however with the honesty and grandeur that characterised the band’s largest albums to this point, and with stakes which have by no means been larger.

The urgency on WE is palpable. The primary half accommodates lots of the similar cynical, zeitgeist-y observations seen on Every little thing Now and 2013’s Reflektor, however fairly than strictly level the finger on the viewers in judgement with a wink and a nudge, Butler and co. basically carry out a model of psychological collapse within the social media age, scattered and effervescent and agitated suddenly. “Age of Anxiousness II (Rabbit Gap)” picks up the place “Age of Anxiousness I” left off, however doubles down on the electro punk aesthetic, providing a number of cathartic moments of dance rock amidst lyrics about falling deeper and deeper into the depths of digital content material. The disco romp of each “Age of Anxiousness” numbers is clearly in Arcade Hearth’s again pocket, however much like “Reflektor,” they use this vitality as a approach into an anxious mentality, a frenetic try to seize an overloaded thoughts.

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