My first exposure to Arcade Fire was “Wake Up,” a grand portrait of the band’s seismic reach with its iconic, melancholy “Oh” chants that I had seen featured in the Where the Wild Things Are (2009) trailer. The song was filled with optimism and bitterness, demonstrating a true remorse for the childish emotions we begrudgingly suppress when growing older, told in adolescent goodbye anecdotes of “someone told me not to cry.” I was a fan immediately.

The first time I actually sat down and truly listened to the band was when The Suburbs was released. Alone in my room studying for a high school exam, I plugged in my headphones to peak volume and slammed the door shut. Once the guitar swoons and static drumbeats of “The Suburbs” began, I was welcomed to an endless aesthetic of sounds and landscapes, creating a suburbia filled with nostalgia, regret, rebellion but most of all: imagery. The Suburbs, more than any other album I’ve encountered, features music that inherently triggers the imagination to conjure imagery in supply of audio pleasures. With “Modern Man,” the gnarling guitar and bottled drumbeats provoked me to envision my friends and I on bicycles riding aimlessly through cul-de-sacs and suburban streets with no purpose. “Half Light I” peeks through sunshine casting over a half-baked high school romance.

In fact, most of Arcade Fire’s early discography has been focused on creating aesthetics and the images, feelings, smells, shapes and noises of an environment, rather than just focusing on the audio. There are obvious ones like “Windowsill” and “The Well and the Lighthouse” that provoke immediate and literal imagery then there’s “Keep the Car Running,” with it’s frantic piano creating a pure rush of adrenaline. How does “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” not make suburban kids travel back to the shadow laced mysteries of your neighborhood and the ways we found loopholes to explore: “Then I’ll dig a tunnel from my window to yours…Sometimes we remember our parents’ bedrooms.”

Everything Now, the band’s latest work, has been a failure in regards to Arcade Fire’s discography. This time, Arcade Fire themselves are trying to control the imagery their songs create and in turn, this is the first Arcade Fire album that sparks none.

That’s not to say the music of Everything Now is bad. The songs are at times good, at times repetitive and other times close to great. It’s not the music that’s the problem. What really stops Everything Now from being anything more than forgettable is its obvious, one-note advertising and marketing campaign that has taken the fun out of the album.

It all started with Everything Now’s title song’s music video, which featured the band in branded “Everything Now” jackets in a desert laced with power lines. Everything about this music video was dreadful to watch. The jackets, mixed with overt lyrics “I guess you’ve got everything now… Everything now (I want it!), Everything now (I can’t live without!)” screams satirical. This theme rattles throughout the whole album in other obvious songs like “Creature Comfort” in which Win Butler sings, “Some boys hate themselves/Spend their lives resenting their fathers/Some girls hate their bodies/Stand in the mirror and wait for the feedback.” These lyrics are not the mystical callbacks to lost emotions in youth I once knew. Thus, they don’t provide imagery of sacred and perfect places found in their previous albums.

Arcade Fire are clearly interested in other things, however the things they are interested in: a replay, feedback based culture reliant on constant opinion and constant information and consumption… is clichéd in 2017. Arcade Fire are hardly the first band to talk about self-hatred and the role of social media in today’s culture. For their lyric on “Creature Comfort,” “She dreams about dying all the time/She told me she came so close/Filled up the bathtub and put on our first record.” I prefer Nirvana’s similar 1991 lyric “he’s the one who likes all our pretty songs… and likes to shoot his gun, but he don’t know what it means…” on “In Bloom.” They are hardly the first ones to sing, “Lust for Life” (Iggy did it better). The messages of Everything Now aren’t anything new and to most of its audience: incredibly transparent. With Everything Now Arcade Fire have become obnoxious stereotypes there are satirically writing about. Perhaps this is on purpose, but if they’re intending to be seen as annoying just in service of the concept album, is that worth it? They can’t help but sound like a group of cigarette-smoking hipsters in a café ranting about how nobody gets it. We do get it, and we’re a little annoyed you don’t think we do.

What’s more transparent is their social media campaign filled with fake bad reviews of their own music, and the creation of the “Everything Now Corporation.” I was treated to this in person when I attended a listening party for Everything Now at a Sonos store in SoHo this summer. Before we listened to the music, two actors from the “Everything Now Corporation” gave us free Everything Now hats, posters and asked us to review the album while we listened, but to only give it positive feedback. They handed out “Creature Comfort” cereal. I don’t have to tell you, but it was too much.

Here’s the caveat though. When we sat down to actually listen to the album, it wasn’t half bad. In fact, at times it’s great. The synth on “Electric Blue” makes the song feel, well, electric. The whole tune is a catchy, dreamy dance number amongst the band’s best. Arcade Fire is great at creating seething riffs, accompanying unique instruments and memorable melodies. However, all in all Everything Now feels like the first time the band didn’t really have anything to say. It feels like they said to themselves “it’s time to make music now” and this is the result.