Arcade Fire may be entering middle age, but their music is still inherently created for and identified with by one key demographic: emotional teenagers. Since their first release well over a decade ago, they have created complex, orchestral rock that is highly evocative and instantly identifiable to any young person feeling the crushing pressure of adulthood inching closer. And, as best evidenced by their sprawling double album about feeling angst in suburbia, they are hardly subtle about this viewpoint.
Yet even by their lofty standards, their new single “Creature Comfort” is disarmingly (even absurdly) direct with its subject matter. “Some boys hate themselves / Spend their lives resenting their fathers” Winn Butler wails, opening the song atop a thrumming beat that is half ’80s arcade game and half frenetically beating wind chimes with sticks. And then things get really weird.
The band inhabit numerous personalities of despondent souls throughout the track, from a young woman dabbling in cutting to—in an extremely meta moment—a girl close to drowning herself while listening to Arcade Fire’s first album, Funeral. “God, make me famous / If you can’t, just make it painless” goes the sing-song chorus, delivered with wild abandon by Butler and the always-affecting Régine Chassagne.
This would handily be the darkest song of the band’s career were it not presented in the form of an upbeat, disco-inflected banger. In fact, it’s downright joyous. Because in the end, though it may be populated with a parade of extremely disconcerting personal narratives, it is an anthem of hope. It is about staring down your darkness, acknowledging its power, and choosing not to submit to it, no matter how attractive that option may seem. And who can’t get down and boogie to that notion?
“Creature Comfort” will appear on Everything Now, the band’s fifth album, out on July 28 via Columbia.
For more of our track reviews, get our thoughts on Toro y Moi’s return single “Girl Like You” right here.