Arcade Fire’s Reflektor One of the Year’s Best

7 Nov

Image

 

In its review of Arcade Fire’s fourth album, Reflektor, online indie beacon Pitchfork called it “monstrously anticipated,” and I guess that’s what happens when your third album is the “monstrously” surprising winner of the 2011 Grammy for Album of the Year. As good as The Suburbs was, this ambitious effort may be even better. At 76 minutes, with 13 tracks split over two discs (or volumes, as Arcade Fire calls them), it’s certainly longer.

Produced by former LCD Soundsystem frontman, James Murphy — and inspired by a visit to Haiti where the parents of vocalist/co-front person, Régine Chassagne, were born — this CD takes the Montreal-based band in the direction of dance. But like with the Rolling Stones and David Bowie before them, Arcade Fire does it without losing its rock edge or unique identity — while also blending in elements of punk, disco, reggae, noise, and classical.

Among the standout tracks are the title track. The album opener may be the best fusion of dance and rock since the Rolling Stone’s Miss You and David Bowie’s Fame. Wait — is that Bowie contributing to the vocals on the track? Why, yes it is.

“Here Comes the Night Time” is inspired by Carnival celebrations in the islands. The song starts off at a gallop, then segues into a laid-back, dub-influenced, danceable groove with nice steel drum touches. The track then kicks back into a gallop one more time before slowing again at the end. Best line in the song, “If there’s no music in heaven, then what’s it for?”

On Volume Two, the 12th track, “Afterlife,” is an uplifting, forward-looking, pre-closer anthem. Island rhythms are again heard, created using snare and synth. Overall, the sound is more typical of Arcade Fire. Finally, the last track, “Supersymmetry,” features swirling synths, electronic bass and reflective, airy vocals in multiple layers of sound. After seven seconds of silence, there’s a 5-minute play-out of rewinding tape sounds and noise. Beatles’ Revolution #9 anyone?!

Reflektor strives to be a larger piece of art, and I think it mostly succeeds. With so many densely layered tracks filled with thought-provoking lyrics, there’s something for everyone. This will undoubtedly be on a lot of the Best of 2013 lists.

 

Apologies to all for being absent from my blog for so long. Work and life have gotten in the way lately. I’ll try to do a better job of updating this weekly — thanks for reading! You can always catch my weekly indie pop, rock and folk show on KZSU, Stanford University’s radio station, Fridays from 9 a.m. to 12 noon Pacific Time in the U.S.) We’re at 90.1 FM in the Bay Area and streaming online at kzsulive.stanford.edu.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: