Arcade Fire's forthcoming fifth studio album is called Everything Now and the shows promoting the record will be part of the Infinite Content Tour. With that in mind, it looked like the Montrealers were gearing up for a (potentially facile) indie rock evisceration of our internet-addled present. But Everything Now's title track, released two weeks back, was more subtle than all that—a disco-pop song that had Win Butler bubbling above an ABBA-worthy piano. "Every inch of road's got a sign / And every boy uses the same line / I pledge allegiance to everything now," Butler sang there, critical but not cringeworthy.
Where precisely the fuck "Creature Comfort" fits into all this is unclear. The second single from Everything Now, released this morning, is sonically just as fizzy, but lyrically far bleaker. It is, explicitly, a graphic look at a suicide that apparently touched Butler personally. "Some boys hate themselves, spend their lives resenting their fathers," Butler sings with a melody asking slyly for a chantalong. "Some girls hate their bodies stand in the mirror and wait for the feedback / Saying why, make me famous / If you can't, just make it painless." The warm, synthetic melody sticks as Butler goes on and, soon, the call is coming from inside the song:
She dreams about dying all the time
She told me she came so close
Filled up the bathtub and put on our first record
At first, Régine Chassagne's vocals are just involved enough to relieve the tension that Butler creates, but soon enough, she's just piling on. She's slightly off the tune when she shouts, "On and on, I don't know what I want / On and on, I don't know if I want it," grating discomfort over the buzz.
After a second verse that has Butler singing about self-harm and sleeping pill overdoses, he pulls back and says it outright: "It's not painless / She was a friend of mine." It is devastating. Worse still, the track just moves on, unconcerned with Butler's candidness and misery, and Chassagne comes back in with some more vocals designed to sit just slightly off of the key. And it never really explodes. There's no Funeral-style crescendo to give us any sort of emotional release, just a persistent beat and the same synths on loop as Butler eviscerates himself.
Everything Now could be anything, now. All that's clear is that Arcade Fire aren't taking it easy.
If you or someone you know has been struggling with thoughts of self-harm or suicide, the Samaritans in the UK can be contacted seven days a week, at any time, on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.
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