Following a pair of comeback shows this week in New Orleans, Arcade Fire have revealed WE, the band’s first new album in five years.
WE, out May 6 via Columbia Records, was produced by longtime Radiohead collaborator Nigel Godrich along with Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Régine Chassagne. The LP was recorded at studios in New Orleans, El Paso and Mount Desert Island in mid-2021 following a pandemic period that marked “the longest we’ve ever spent writing, uninterrupted, probably ever,” Butler said in a statement.
The album borrows its title from Russian author Yevgeny Zamyatin’s 1921 sci-fi novel We, which would later inspire the dystopian works of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley. The seven-song LP is split across two sides, “I” and “WE,” respectively, with the first half exploring loneliness and isolation and the latter part celebrating reconnection following, say, a lengthy pandemic.
Joining the septet on the new LP is Peter Gabriel, who provides vocals alongside Chassagne on WE’s “Unconditional II (Race and Religion)”; Gabriel previously covered the band’s Neon Bible song “My Body Is a Cage” for his 2010 covers album Scratch My Back. “I’d listen to his songs on the radio growing up, and they were the only places outside of my house where I’d hear drums that sounded like my family’s music,” Chassagne said of Gabriel in a statement.
Ahead of WE’s release, Arcade Fire have shared the video for the album’s first single “The Lightning I, II.” The Emily Kai Bock-directed visual for the two-part song begins with the collective staging an outdoor concert, but as the music picks up, so does the weather, with Butler forced to dodge winds and a tornado. After the force of nature, Arcade Fire pick up their destroyed instruments and continue on with their performance.
Additionally, Butler shared a typed statement breaking down his mission statement on WE:
WE — featuring a cover image of a human eye doubling as a black hole shot by famed photographer JR — marks Arcade Fire’s first album since 2017’s Everything Now, and their sixth studio LP.
WE Track List
“Age of Anxiety I”
“Age of Anxiety II (Rabbit Hole)”
“End of the Empire I-IV”
“The Lightning I, II”
“Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)”
“Unconditional II (Race and Religion)”