Arcade Fire - Reflektor

Arcade Fire - Reflektor

Four albums in, and Arcade Fire have changed the game again. Never has a band managed to reinvent itself so often whilst still maintaining the quintessential components that made them so good.

You didn’t know what to expect, but you knew it would be this good.

With their new album, Reflektor, Arcade Fire have expanded their musical palette into the realms of new wave and contemporary electronica. Despite this, they have held on to that melancholic heartache that made their first three albums so universally loved.

This change in direction is largely due to LCD Soundsystem mastermind and DFA head honcho James Murphy, who took the reins as producer for the album. Murphy evidently has his fingerprints all over this one, with the technical proficiency and subtle manipulation that is trademark clearly apparent.

Reflektor is a huge undertaking. Clocking in at over an hour, the album is largely structured with songs over five or six minutes long. Where in their debut album, Funeral, Arcade Fire would divert into emotional jams quite dissimilar from the tunes they were birthed from, now they draw from the same musicality already provided within the song. In the titular track, and ‘Here Comes The Night Time’, melody and rhythm are perfectly dragged out into breakdowns reminiscent of Murphy’s classics (think 'All My Friends') and new wave old timers like New Order and Echo & the Bunnymen.

Above all else, Reflektor is a road album. Win Butler and company traverse the landscape that they created in 2010’s The Suburbs. Back then Arcade Fire were trapped in an inescapable urban sprawl, but now they’ve broken free, racing away at a pace that is meant to inspire.

Butler has assumed this role entirely, presenting himself as symbolic voice of the people. As he croons in ‘Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)’ to us, “Will you ever get free? Just take all your pain, just put it on me, so you can breathe”, he his channelling the late Joe Strummer, and, to a lesser extent, Bruce Springsteen. He sings directly to a directionless generation, placing the weight of their world on his own shoulders. At times this comes across as slightly self-righteous but for the most part, he succeeds.

Reflektor is an achievement and it is a testament to what this band can do that they have followed it up for a fourth time in a row. Arcade Fire have set the bar high once more, and if it inspires even one band or musician to put as much thought and effort into their music, the world will be a better place.

Arcade Fire - Reflektor:

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