“Waiting on the lightning” sing Win Butler and Régine Chassagne in the latest single, ‘The Lightning I, II’ from Arcade Fire. For the most part, listening to their two-track release, I was doing just that.
‘The Lightning I, II’ feels like a re-tread of ground that Arcade Fire have covered much better before. With Everything Now, their last album released in 2017, the band’s lyrics seemed to be changing to reflect the new preoccupations of their mid-thirties. This feels like a regression.
‘The Lightning I’ begins with a reference to the iconic opening strum of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart.’ Quoting a much better song does Arcade Fire no favours as they plod through three minutes and one second of cod-Springsteen.
It’s not all bad. The moment at 02:45 makes me want to run down the motorway with my eyes closed. But that was the only time in either song when I sat up straight and paid attention.
‘The Lightning II’ feels less lifeless but that may just be because it’s quicker. I did love the lines “A day, a week, a month, a year / Every second brings me here.”
In fact, I enjoyed the chorus refrains of both songs, but the lyricism in the verses is just unimaginative and adolescent. Half-hearted Biblical references (“Jesus Christ was an only son”) sit alongside obvious images of Americana (“broken radio”, “Rodeo Drive”). Neither feel honest to me.
Maybe I’m being unfair. I can never objectively compare how I felt listening to Funeral for the first time with the latest output of a band as old as I am. But there just seems to be something missing. The emotions expressed don’t come off as honest to me. Arcade Fire sound like forty-year-olds still wrapped up in their teenage years.
For me, lightning didn’t even strike once on this single, never mind twice.