Is There Any Solution in Arcade Fire’s “Everything Now?”

Many professional record critics have complained about “Everything Now” on the basis that the album is all “problem” with no “solution.” I think that is because the “problem” is fairly obvious not only throughout the songs, but also in our lives. And more pointedly, perhaps the songs hit too close to where we all live, and in lieu of any obvious of solution (that is the supposed accusation) we are left with an album that exists mainly for our listening depression.

But do they not offer any solution? My critique of the critics is that they have completely missed it and that is why they think the album is only about our big problem of “Everything Now.” (And I would agree that nobody only wants to hear about our big problem.)

So what is the solution? Well first let me make a point. What do you think could be the solution to our entire society’s problem? See, most of us don’t have an answer and therefore we don’t even know what to look for and can’t see it when it is offered. In other words, we miss the solution because we don’t even know what it looks like.

I believe their solution is in the transition in their narrative from songs about the problems of consumerism of everything, including our wanting even God to be another commodity (“God in heaven, could you please me?“) to songs about relationship. Peter Pan, Chemistry, Put Your Money on Me, We Don’t Deserve Love are all relational. But a relationship with who?

Well, for the sake of keeping this fairly short I’ll just mention several key points of who I think this mystery person might be. In “Chemistry” we learn that we haven’t yet “met” them. In “Put Your Money On Me” we learn that their “race for our heart” began “before we were born” and that they win that race for it when they “wake” following their death. Also their “mother” was “crying on the day of our wedding” alluding to the sorrow of Mary the mother of Jesus at the crucifixion of her son Jesus, which event was also the sealing through the blood of the New Covenant of Jesus/God with his people. In “We Don’t Deserve Love” we learn that we are like a biblical “Mary” Magdalene who has been repeatedly left by her previous lovers, the “Christ types” that always “leave you alone.” But the singer pleads with “Mary” (us) to “roll away the stone” behind which is not the imposter “Christ types” but I think the real Christ.

Now if anyone has any other ideas of some other person that can do fit in all of these descriptions, I’d love to hear it. I also realize that the biblical illiteracy in our culture is nearly complete, so it doesn’t surprise me in the least that most of these allusions go completely over the heads of the professional critics and masses of fans of Arcade Fire.
So this answer to the problem of “Everything Now” – that relationship to God is the solution, certainly raises many other questions – mainly “how can a relationship with God save me from “Everything Now?”

Well that question is more than I can tackle at this point, but listening to the entire album more with this “solution” in mind might help. For now I’m contented to post this excerpt from the biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann:

“Nevertheless I am continually with you; You hold my right hand. (Psalm 73:23)
This is no casual hand-holding. This is a life-or-death grip that does not let go. “No-Sabbath” existence imagines getting through on our own, surrounded by commodities to accumulate and before which to bow down. But a commodity cannot hold one’s hand. Only late does the psalmist come to know otherwise. Only late may we also come to know. We may know, but likely not without Sabbath, a rest rooted in God’s own restfulness and extended to our neighbors who also must rest. We, with our hurts, fears, and exhaustion, are left restless until then.” (From “Sabbath as Resistance – Saying No to the Culture of Now.”)

Comments, questions, outrage, are welcome. Thanks for reading!

Original Content © Bryan M. Christman and Manifest Propensity, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bryan M. Christman and Manifest Propensity with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

7 thoughts on “Is There Any Solution in Arcade Fire’s “Everything Now?”

  1. The Arcade Fire discussion group I started on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/groups/442967742576071/

  2. Scott Kistler says:

    Here was an example of a critic (perhaps not a professional) not even bothering to engage with their critiques: http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/music-theatre/2017/07/arcade-fire-everything-now-lyrics

    Criticisms of modern society are only worthy of eyerolling, I guess.

    Do you think that they are consciously trying to point to Christ?

    • Hi Scott, nice to hear from you! I had seen that critique and unfortunately it’s not the only very superficial critique I’ve seen. It seems the cool thing now is to hate Arcade Fire. I actually am fairly strongly of the opinion that they are consciously pointing to Christ, but I say that knowing I could be wrong. I don’t know if you do Facebook at all but if you do and have any interest in joining the group I’d certainly value your feedback. Thanks

  3. Scott Kistler says:

    Thank you for the invitation. I checked it out and perhaps will take a look sometimes. I’m not on Facebook too much but will be interested to see the discussion when I can.

  4. Scott Kistler says:

    Not sure if you saw the Pitchfork review of the album. It was critical but quite thoughtful: https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/arcade-fire-everything-now/

    • I think I had seen that one and to me another example of people somehow not being able to see the solution – I think because it is based in Agustinian and Pascallian terms which they are apparently unable to recognize. Granted the negative hits you like a bus and with many of us so primed toward outrage too easily fall into that pitfall as the knee-jerk way to deal with it.

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