Words About Music
Arcade Fire “Reflektor”
When the history books are written about the dead art of rock and roll, one of the bands listed among the contemporary gods will undoubtedly be Montreal’s Arcade Fire. Four albums into their 10-year career, Arcade Fire have never released a bad album. Even their lesser albums are some of the best of the decade they were released in, and that’s truly saying something. Ever since their 2004 debut “Funeral” they’ve been building their legacy by ever-so-slightly evolving their sound in a way that fuses numerous genres. Art rock, stadium rock, indie rock, indie pop, folk, dance punk; Arcade Fire have never been afraid to try new things. From the gorgeous and memorable “Funeral” opener that is “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” to 2010’s Grammy-winning “The Suburbs” all the way up to 2013 with the new record, Arcade Fire continues to polarize, scare, charm, and influence with their unique approach to music as a whole. Like them or not, there aren’t many bands out there who deserve success as much as Arcade Fire. And with “Reflektor,” the group’s fourth album, they expand their takeover into new territories with help from LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy.
Now if you’re a casual Arcade Fire listener, chances are you may not like this album. There’s no “Wake Up” or “Rebellion (Lies)” type single to get people pumped at the end of concerts, but there is music that is consistent, extremely well produced, and truly bigger and better than anything Arcade Fire has ever recorded. Just look at the album’s length for a start. Two discs, thirteen songs, 75 minutes (85 if you include the 10-minute pre-bonus track that plays before the opening song “Reflektor”). “Reflektor” is the group’s lengthiest and definitely most polarizing album to date. It’s also the most startlingly original album they’ve put out. There’s definitely quite a bit of influence from better new wave acts like David Bowie (who provides guest vocals on “Reflektor”) and Talking Heads, but it still sounds incredibly modern. I can even see how the group could be inspired by house music for the different song structures. The rhythms pulsate and move in a truly artistic way that brings “Reflektor” to its numerous climaxes.
Arcade Fire has always been very good at making every single song on their albums insanely good, and that talent continues on “Reflektor.” These songs are dark in a way that would probably make Nick Cave proud. This album is full of atmosphere and can space out a ton of instruments just to give it that post-punk vibe even though the music being played is far from it. “Reflektor” is just another example of Arcade Fire continuing on the path to rock and roll superstardom, which also seems the logical next step for groups like Vampire Weekend and Arctic Monkeys.
Every reggae upbeat, every weird sound, every Clash tribute, every wobbling synth, it all comes together in the most beautiful ways on what could be Arcade Fire’s best album ever. The band is never afraid to drift further and further away from the sound they established on their beloved debut, and with every further drift is a new step in a direction I can’t help but love. Maybe the 6-minute outro tagged onto “Supersymmetry” wasn’t completely necessary, but I’d be hard pressed to find anything about “Reflektor” that I would change. It’s catchy, bombastic, memorable, and another awesome album in what has become a legendary year in the world of music. “Reflektor” bounces off the walls with all sorts of energy and takes influence from all sorts of places. Frankly, I find it a difficult album to hate, but not one that can be immediately understood or appreciated. It’s Arcade Fire’s most difficult album to date, but it’s worth figuring out.
GRADE – 9.7
FAVORITE TRACKS – Reflektor, We Exist, Flashbulb Eyes, Here Comes The Night Time, Normal Person, You Already Know, Joan of Arc, Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice), It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus), Porno, Afterlife