Earlier on Vulture’s Songs of the Week, I praised the Killers’ new song “The Man” for being a glitzy disco-funk confection, but also noticed something a bit odd about it. For a good half-listen, I confused it with Arcade Fire’s two new glitzy disco-funk singles, which I’ve had equal difficulty telling apart from each other. Lo and behold, Arcade Fire have released another new single, “Signs of Life,” which claims to be sung by Win Butler, but maybe it’s Brandon Flowers?
At some point in roughly the last five years, these two pillars of 2000s stadium rock have discovered the late ’70s and early ’80s, and merged as one. The overlap is uncanny. Even visually, the bands seem to be operating in the same music-video universe where Butler and Flowers strut around in the desert, alternating between their versions of machismo (for Flowers, it’s a wife beater and biker jacket; for Butler, it’s a bowler hat and cargo jacket) and wearing lots of glitter and sequins.
Did both bands originate in the same lab, but we just never noticed? Or is the sudden resemblance a new development? They’re not even drawing from the same influences, and yet they’re somehow still spitting out the same result: “The Man” heavily samples Kool & the Gang’s “Spirit of the Boogie,” while Arcade Fire are now being produced by Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter, Pulp’s Steve Mackey, and Portishead’s Geoff Barrow. So, what gives?
Because both acts have been circling this sound for some time — Arcade Fire warned this is where their sound was headed on “We Exist” and Flowers released a whole synth-inspired solo album — it now seems the ’80s revival bubble has trapped Arcade Fire and the Killers in a time portal that’s unintentionally jumbled up all their moving parts. It’s not a bad thing (the songs are groovy), just a freaky coincidence for two bands who couldn’t have started out sounding more different.