Following the 2010 commercial success of The Suburbs, Arcade Fire solidified itself as a widely marketable act and fostered mass critical appeal with its anthems to suburban desolation.
In its fourth album, Reflektor, the Montreal-based band strays from its signature formula, offering an ambitious two-disc album that deviates from the old iconoclast themes and presents a disco-driven record charged with relentless energy.
Enlisting the talents of LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, Arcade Fire ushers in a collection of dance hall-inspired anthems, propelled by maniacal guitars and beat-heavy synth tracks.
Inflated with garish dance loops and ostensibly kitschy tones, Reflektor is actually anything but trite.
The layers of complexity surrounding each track are what make the body of work so dynamic, and the band employs this effect to offset any hint of parody. In doing so, it retains its signature humor, evidenced by the lyrical musings in “Flashbulb Eyes.” “What if the camera really do take your soul?” they sing. The band seemingly questions the perilous and intoxicating world of fame and expectation, while crooning over reggae-inspired rhythms.
Arcade Fire’s signature challenges to institutionalized communities and religion resurface on one of the album’s standout tracks, “Here Comes the Night Time.” With a whimsical humor, William Butler sings, “When they hear the beat coming from the street…if there’s no music up in heaven then what’s it for?” The track goes on to erupt in frenetic, reggae-tinged beats and thrashing guitars.
In an admirable move, the band employs its newfound persona as a platform to reflect on love and mortality, even drawing upon the self-affirming mythological characters Odysseus and Eurydice. In what is easily the album’s most poignant track, “It’s Never Over (Hey Orpheus),” the predicament of having to force past a painful situation is reconciled with the wisdom inevitably brought on with age.
The band poignantly sings, “It seems so important now, but you will get over…and when you get older, then you will discover that it’s never over.” Other standouts include “Porno,” which pairs synth-heavy rifts with bass-heavy lines, and the Talking Heads-inspired “You Already Know.”
As Arcade Fire’s most comprehensive body of work, the crowning achievement of Reflektor is its ability to catapult the band into a realm it sought after The Suburbs‘s success. The ambitious release deviates from the beaten path of emotionally-gripped indie rock and ushers Arcade Fire into a bolder, edgier dance abstraction. And in the throes of this impressive effort, it succeeds triumphantly.
Arcade Fire – Reflektor tracklist:
- “We Exist”
- “Flashbulb Eyes”
- “Here Comes the Night Time”
- “Normal Person”
- “You Already Know”
- “Joan of Arc”
- “Here Comes the Night Time II”
- “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)”
- “It’s Never Over (Hey Orpheus)”