Well, this is truly awful. Perhaps the worst album by a major band since Mardi Gras by Creedence Clearwater Revival back in ’72. And that’s a lot better than this pompous, trite and at times desperate drivel. Their first album, Funeral, was quirkily anthemic and packed with memorable tunes. The second — Neon Bible — reminded me, chillingly, of Echo and the Bunnymen outtakes.
The decline has continued apace. This time, Daft Punk have stapled on some bangin’ beats in an attempt to make the band seem hip. This stratagem has not worked. It makes them seem like dads at a rave. They still plough that post-punk early-1980s furrow for inspiration, but the soil is by now exhausted: hell, at times they sound like U2. And bad U2, at that. They still strive for those anthems, too, but the songs don’t carry them anywhere other than up their own jacksies. And the lyrics — oh boy. Full of early adolescent wrist-job social concern: earnest to the point of embarrassment, banal and in the end supremely irritating. We know you care, you Canucks. But it’s not enough simply to care, is it? How about you write a decent song?
There’s the ghost of one lurking somewhere inside the title track and the vaguest intimation of the same inhabiting the delicate ‘Electric Blue’. But that’s your lot. They pretend they’re Talking Heads on the execrable ‘Signs of Life’ — a leap way too far — and the lumpen, clodhopping spaz-reggae of ‘Chemistry’ has to be heard to be believed.
Stop trying so hard and remember the point, Arcade Fire. Or just go away.