Arcade Fire cement their place in the big leagues with a consistently excellent double album
Released October 28th
Arcade Fire have never been the type to shy away from the big and the bold; right from the get-go they built their grandiose songwriting around weighty subjects such as human mortality, religion and existential angst. It comes with no surprise, then, that after conquering the world of indie rock with 2010’s The Suburbs, Win Butler and co. decided to take the next logical, and potentially game-changing, step in their career – to get to work on a double album. Usually reserved for the giants of the music world, the double album has a history of separating the men (ie. Springsteen) from the boys (ie. Biffy Clyro). With this in mind, I’m pleased to report that all 75 minutes of Reflektor place Arcade Fire firmly in the big leagues.
Title track ‘Reflektor’ kicks the album off in no-nonsense fashion; a hazy stab at dark disco rock that’s equal parts Depeche Mode and Chic; a ‘Get Lucky’ for the confused and restless. With none other than David Bowie on backing vocals, the song sets the tone for the record; Reflektor sets its sights firmly at the future, with an abundance of fuzzy synths and dance beats.
Though Bowie only appears in the flesh briefly on the first song, his presence is felt throughout the album, with the ‘We Exist’ channelling the vibe of ‘Let’s Dance’, and ‘You
Already Know’ playing out like a homage to Ziggy-era Glam Rock. Other highlights include ‘Afterlife’, a propulsive piece of electro-pop that culminates in Butler asking “when love is gone/where does it go?” Later tracks ‘It’s Never Over’ and the Prince-y funk of ‘Porno’ keep the pace going towards the end, neither of which would sound out of place
on the Drive soundtrack, with both working as effective 80s pastiches.
A double album that actually deserves its slightly testing running time, Reflektor breaks brave new ground for the band, resulting in their most energetic and lively set of songs to date. Above all, though, it leaves you with the promise that Arcade Fire aren’t finished evolving yet, and where they go from here is anyone’s guess.