There’s some – unconfirmed, as of now – anticipation of a new Arcade Fire album coming out soon. This is a big event; Arcade Fire have grown from just another indie band out of Canada into the upper echelon of artist who are both popular and taken seriously. Their last album, Reflektor, was four years ago. That record represented a great quantum leap forward – it was a masterpiece. It wasn’t exactly a concept album, but it was strongly thematic, with its sprawl and ambition more than making up for the honestly fairly generic choice of theme. The theme, tiredly enough, being the difficulty of making human connection in the age of the omnipresent glowing screen, with its glut of mirage-like pornographic images. It doesn’t in any way take away from the overall musical achievement of the thing to say that its ideas are its weakest point. The mythological references are clever, but exploring modern-day technological alienation isn’t exactly original, especially when, as artist and public figure, you benefit greatly from the very things you take aim at. Taking potshots at the plugged-in post-millennium lifestyle is as ubiquitous today as ‘sticking it to the man’ was in the 60’s. However, social media and the technological web that it exists within, unlike the suburbs, has powerful practical benefits that are hard to argue against. It’s a tough argument to deny that instant access to all of the knowledge of the world is a bad thing. Pandora’s box and the fall of Eden both come to mind, of course, but one could argue that those cautionary tales are, at their very root, nothing more that centuries-old propaganda of the kind that denies people empowerment by denying them knowledge. Someone should write a concept album about that.