Arcade Fire’s fifth record, Everything Now, drops less than a month from now (July 28) and in this final push the band isn’t effing around in the least bit. Not that Win Butler, Régine Chassagne and company could ever be accused of taking their foot off the gas but “Signs of Life” is a far different beast than what the group’s put out before. Yes Reflektor ably showed how well Arcade Fire could work inside the dance rock idiom but nothing on that record is nearly as funky as this new single is. The rubbery bassline and the scene-setting strings and the muted horn honks and the insistent handclaps could be inserted into a blaxploitation soundtrack and no one would bat an eye.
While the musical backdrop has changed a great deal, Win Butler is still ruminating on what we value in the 21st Century. He’s wondering what good it does to spend so much time trying to be cool and if there’s really any value in it. He can’t help but look for “signs of life” and find nothing in his search. What does he do though? Does he throw in the towel? Nah. That’s not Arcade Fire. Arcade Fire keeps burrowing for that human connection until they can find it. That won’t stop no matter what the musical setting is.