Entertainment

ADRIAN THRILLS: Arcade Throw ’70s Art Rock… But Still Can’t Ignite


ARCADE FIRE: We (Columbia)

Evaluation:

Verdict: Covers without burning

SOFT CELL: * No happiness Included (BMG)

Evaluation:

Verdict: Exhilarating return

Sigrid: how to let go (island)

Evaluation:

Verdict: Solid sophomore effort

David Bowie was a fan and Chris Martin of Coldplay calls them “the greatest band in history”. But while Arcade Fire is one of the biggest bands around, they may be guilty of taking themselves too seriously.

They’re doing it again on their sixth album, We. Among the important topics they choose to address are a sense of universal foreboding and the loss of American identity.

One lead mentions a supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*, which exists at the center of our galaxy.

If any of this suggests We is heavy, it is. . . at least in places.

They’re doing it again on their sixth album, We. Among the important topics they choose to address are a sense of universal foreboding and the loss of American identity.

But Arcade Fire, which formed in Montreal in 2001, also has the ability to blend such lofty themes with swaggering hooks and lavish arrangements and there’s plenty here too – despite the lack of a pop moment. scintillating to rival that of 2017. All single now.

track of the week

Hold My Hand by LADY GAGA

“Everything will be fine,” roars the mad pop diva on her first new solo music since 2020’s Chromatica album. hit.

In reality, what we have here is an old-school, 1970s-style art-rock album. There are sly nods to Bowie and a cameo from former Genesis singer Peter Gabriel. The presence of the shrewd Father John Misty as an additional producer (he also adds “stomps and breaths”) does little to dampen the grandiosity.

We is what a football pundit might call a two-part album, its seven songs tracing an arc from dark to light. The first half, rooted in solitude, carries the weight of the world on its shoulders.

The second, fueled by the post-containment euphoria of reconnecting with loved ones, seems on the right side.

At the heart of it all is the sextet’s swirling carousel of sound, a mix of electronic and acoustic instruments that incorporates guitar, drums, brass and strings. Vocals are shared between Win Butler and his wife Régine Chassagne. To keep it in the family, there’s even a harp from Butler’s mother, Liza Rey. A sense of foreboding overshadows the opening section. “I have to get this spirit out of me, this anxiety that’s inside of me,” Butler warns on Age Of Anxiety I.

The four-part sequel End Of The Empire I-IV tackles everything from the decline of American power to the desire to unsubscribe from streaming services. This is all a bit pretentious. High points are thicker and faster on side two. The Lightning is a two-part track that begins with a majestic piano ballad before transitioning into a Springsteen-esque rocker. “Black skies turn indigo again,” sings Butler, reflecting the change in mood. It’s exaggerated. . . but impossible to resist.

After all that bombshell, there’s a welcome slight relief in another two-part issue, Unconditional I and II. The first section, subtitled Lookout Kid, is a folksy love letter to Butler and Chassagne’s son, Edwin. The second part, with Gabriel dueting with Regine, is a sunny love song reminiscent of the disco branch of Talking Heads Tom Tom Club.

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The ‘difficult second album’ became even more awkward for Sigrid when the Scandinavian singer found herself transported back from LA to her childhood bedroom in Norway during lockdown

Charted in lockdown – “the longest we’ve ever spent writing” – feels like the work of an overthinking band. It’s hard to fault their ambition, but my hunch is that these simmering songs won’t fully ignite until Arcade Fire is back on the road.

With hits such as Tainted Love and Bedsitter, Soft Cell shaped British electronic music in the 1980s. But vocalist Marc Almond and instrumentalist Dave Ball were never particularly prolific, making the release of their fifth album so welcome.

Only their second LP in 38 years, *Happiness Not Include revisits all the ingredients that made them so influential in their heyday. Almond’s voice is warm and relatable, his lyrics laced with humor. Ball’s synth-fueled hiss and beeps are crisp and melodious without being overpowering.

There is no shortage of highlights. Happy Happy Happy and New Eden look at how the futuristic sci-fi visions of yesterday failed to materialize. The duo, who first met as art students in Leeds, were going to call this album Future Nostalgia, but were thwarted when Dua Lipa beat them to the punch.

They always write engagingly about perseverance, even when things don’t go as planned.

The beautifully sung Light Sleepers is an affectionate portrait of Californian night owls that is the musical equivalent of an Edward Hopper painting. The funny Polaroid documents a disappointing encounter with Andy Warhol in 1980s New York.

With hits such as Tainted Love and Bedsitter, Soft Cell shaped British electronic music in the 1980s. But vocalist Marc Almond and instrumentalist Dave Ball were never particularly prolific, making the release of their fifth album so welcome.

With hits such as Tainted Love and Bedsitter, Soft Cell shaped British electronic music in the 1980s. But vocalist Marc Almond and instrumentalist Dave Ball were never particularly prolific, making the release of their fifth album so welcome.

There’s also some kitschy dance music in Nostalgia Machine, which checks out the name of motorcycle film David Essex’s Silver Dream Racer and Hawkwind’s Silver Machine.

Best of all, Purple Zone is a burgeoning duo between Almond and Neil Tennant that brings together the UK’s biggest synth duo (Pet Shop Boys) and its most influential (Soft Cell).

The ‘difficult second album’ became even more awkward for Sigrid when the Scandinavian singer found herself transported back from LA to her childhood bedroom in Norway during the lockdown. Torn between the comforts of home and a jet-set life, she became pensive and introspective.

The result is a follow-up to 2019’s dynamic Sucker Punch that reaffirms her pop star credentials – she’s a power singer – but is uneven. Sigrid, 25, shines on the shiny Mirror, returning to the electronics of her 2017 Top 10, Strangers.

Experiments with more guitar-oriented gear are hit or miss. It Gets Dark, about accepting hard times and moving on, is a generic rock ballad, but Bad Life, an unlikely duet with Bring Me The Horizon singer Oli Sykes, shows its versatility.

“It’s just a bad day, not a bad life,” she sings, still on the rise.

CLASSIC

One of André Previn’s best TV programs on the TSWT with the LSO was Nine Symphonies By Who? He was not talking about Beethoven but about Ralph Vaughan Williams, this great English gentleman whose 150th birthday we are celebrating this year.

Of course, RVW was once a young man with a burning love for British folk music and an independent spirit that led him down strange paths. The venerable Hallé Orchestra has just released the two-disc box set Vaughan Williams: Symphonies 7 & 9 (★★★★★) which completes their RVW Symphony cycle with Sir Mark Elder, as well as the complete cycle in a box set.

The Seventh Symphony, Sinfonia Antartica, in the new ensemble is a brilliant live recording from Bridgewater Hall, with well-balanced offstage soprano and female voices. The music was based by RVW on his score for the 1948 film Scott Of The Antarctic starring John Mills: he fashioned a five-movement symphony in the shape of an arc with a central Lento.

The Ninth, created a few months before his death in 1958, may seem a little strange at first sight but gains in repetition: it is well recorded in the Halle Saint-Pierre.

As Vaughan Williams: Symphonies 1-9 (★★★★✩) dates from 2010 to 2021, their sound quality varies a bit, but the level of performance and recording overall is extremely high.

My favorite is the Fifth, which takes up the themes of RVW’s The Pilgrim’s Progress: you only need to hear a few bars of the Romanza to be transported to the English countryside.

Everything here does credit to Sir Mark Elder, who brought the Hallé back to the forefront of British orchestras, as Sir John Barbirolli did many years ago.

TULLY POTTER

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