Arcade Fire WE review sony music Unconditional II (Race and Religion)

Arcade Fire, WE: REVIEW

“The band’s shortest album still manages to feel epic, and that’s Arcade Fire’s specialty.”

Arcade Fire WE

Arcade Fire, WE (Sony Music)

The first Arcade Fire album in half a decade finds the same band that we’ve always known refocusing, renewing and streamlining their sound, delivering a concise 40-ish minutes of outsider ballads and electric earworms. As with Everything Now, there’s a certain middle-of-the-road quality to some of the material, but there’s always enough going on sonically and lyrically to elevate the songs above easy-listening radio fare. While WE lacks the wall-to-wall rock anthems of Funeral or the wealth of future greatest hits that Reflektor had, the album’s themes — cast in the shadow of the pandemic and American politics — pair perfectly with well-conceived series of two-part songs, with all their melancholy lows and electric highs. As usual, the Régine-led song, “Unconditional II (Race and Religion)” (feat. backup vocals by Peter Gabriel), is a breezy highlight, while “Age of Anxiety II (Rabbit Hole)” is a stellar piece of dark disco. The album’s nine-minute centrepiece “End of an Empire” deserves repeat listens as it packs a lot in, including a slice of fatalistic glam-rock ballad à la “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide.” The band’s shortest album still manages to feel epic, and that’s Arcade Fire’s specialty. 7.5/10 Trial Track: “Unconditional II (Race and Religion)”

“Unconditional II (Race and Religion)” from WE by Arcade Fire

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