COLUMN: Arcade Fire, “WE” is a lightning-in-a-bottle album

Brie Coder , Columnist

I’d like to go back to early summer and visit “WE,” the sixth studio album by the vastly experimental indie rock group Arcade Fire.

Following a period of instability and isolation, thanks to COVID-19, the husband and wife duo of Arcade Fire, Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, immediately channeled their fears, anxieties and unexpected delights into “WE,” a cultivating 10-track record that can be listened to in a matter of 40 minutes. If you’re a fan of their older work, then you’ll be in for a treat revisiting the original sounds that made the group so considerably popular in the mid- 2000s.

The album opens with “Age of Anxiety I,” an homage to all the anxieties the world was facing when COVID-19 first reared its ugly head into our daily lives. You immediately hear the uneasiness of the drum track that resembles a panicked heartbeat.

Known for tackling the current state of society, Arcade Fire hits a home run at the beginning of one of the two epics written for this album, expressing the apprehension we felt sitting at home, wondering when we could go back to normalcy.

For many of us, finding normalcy during this difficult time meant reaching for our phones and spending countless hours scrolling through our social media pages, hoping we could find an enthralling escape in the meantime.

The sad thing is that we didn’t. Instead, we felt angst that our lives were passing us by and we had nothing to show for our accomplishments. Butler orchestrated “Age of Anxiety I and II (Rabbit Hole)” to fit that feeling.

“Age of Anxiety I” is melancholy, channeling that uncertainty and feeling of having no one or nowhere to go to express this universal yet personal turmoil. Part two (“Age of Anxiety II – Rabbit Hole”) generates the excitement we felt when restrictions were starting to lift.

The synth-pop disco vibes off this track help us shake off all the worry and doubt felt globally.

“The Lightning I and II” also transmits the same sentimental feeling as “Age of Anxiety,” except the vibes of these two songs channeled The Who (in the opening part of part one of ‘Lightning’ – the same strum pattern used in “Pinball Wizard” and Meat Loaf’s star dazzling album “Bat Out of Hell” (the chord progression and profound lyrics used in part two).

Additionally, Arcade Fire featured the iconic Peter Gabriel in “Unconditional II (Race and Religion)” to round out their endearing collective.

“WE” is a lightning-in-a-bottle album that captures a moment in time we thought would never end from 2020 – 2022. I concur with NME (New Musical Express) when they stated this album is “their most focused record since ‘The Suburbs.’”

Unfortunately, this album was the calm before the storm, as lead vocalist Butler faces a series of sexual misconducts, which will rock the sturdy foundation Arcade Fire assembled in 2004. Will Butler’s misconducts bulldoze the masterpiece collective we’ve grown to appreciate over the past two decades? Only time will tell.

Brie Coder is a graduate student in communication and leadership. She can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812