I have to confess, Arcade Fire are a band that have grown on me. I knew of “The Suburbs” single and thought that was ‘quite good’, but it wasn’t until I saw their Glastonbury 2014 set that I really got them. “Reflektor” and “We Exist” were the two tracks that really burned themselves into my consciousness.
So, “Everything Now” is the first new material that’s been released since I became a fan. It’s produced by former Trolley Dog Shag and Pulp bassist Steve Mackey and 50% of Daft Punk in the form of Thomas Bangalter, which probably accounts for the dancier aspects. And boy, what a corker it is.
Some people have written, exhaustively, about what the track means and its rejection of a consumerist lifestyle and doubtless wanked themselves into a frenzy about the symbolism of it all. And good for them, they’re clearly the sort of person that brings their children up to be vegan.
Other people have written at unnecessarily copious lengths about the disco aspects of the single, and especially some perceived ABBA influences. I guess they are there and it would be otiose to repeat them here when you can simply Google them for yourselves. However, to my mind I think there are other influences.
Back in the 70s, for a very short period, Christian gospel musicians attempted to make their music more #relevant by fusing it with disco. At first the records were – not even underground, they were practically ignored, by the mainstream at least, although standout tracks certainly gained a niche following amongst the hardcore faithful. That was, until Tony Humphries remixed “Stand on the Word” by Phyllis Joubert, and His Royal Godlike Genius Larry Levan played it at the Paradise Garage. The rest, as people who are wont to rely on cliches are likely to say, is history.
DJ Greg Belson devotes (no pun intended) an unhealthy amount of time to tracking down and licensing such obscure disco gospel tracks, and recently released a quite terrific double compilation album of some of the most choice cuts. “Divine Disco” is available from Amazon and also at places that pay their corporation tax. For a primer, have a listen to this promo mix from Greg on Mixcloud.
(For a much better and more detailed write-up of the whole disco gospel scene, and this compilation, please read this bloody good article by Alex Needham and then buy the album.)