Arcade Fire’s fifth album, Everything Now, is is a subtle and impressive wall of sound. (Album cover crop)

Street Sounds: Art rock grooves

Montreal art rock heroes Arcade Fire’s fifth album is a deep take on pop and electronic traditions

Montreal art rock heroes Arcade Fire’s fifth album, Everything Now, is a deep textured take on pop and electronic traditions.

The group, led by Win Butler and Regine Chassagne, takes their multi-vocal multi-instrumental sound deep into a baroque rock sensibility. It’s an impressive wall of sound that comes on subtly (We Don’t Deserve Love). Longtime producer Markus Dravs and the band take a Talking Heads-like kitchen sink approach to craft cinematic songs.

The group’s use of a vast array of instruments to serve the songs gives them a high-end sound. There are no wayward ideas — except maybe a pointless sound bite succeeded by the melodically lush title track — and songs sound stately but the drama is contained (Signs of Life).

A newcomer to Arcade Fire’s music might find it involved and eclectic. There are big ideas but the imagination and sonic adventure within the band dispels any musical indulgence.

Creature Comfort is a synth-driven pop song underneath it’s electronic surface. Peter Pan flirts with experimentation at the expense of coherence, but it fits within the album’s wide inclusion of pop and art rock (Chemistry, Electric Blue). Some tracks, like the double-barrelled Infinite Content are presented as loose ideas that sound beautiful, statements be damned.

The seemingly unconnected material of Everything Now is held together by musicians with an uncanny sense of detail. Their power lies in realizing the force of presenting sounds as big ideas that are really left-of-centre pop songs.

–Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician who reviews the latest music releases in his column, Street Sounds, every Friday.