Arcade Fire
Reflektor


4.0
excellent

Review

by John weathered old reviewer Hanson STAFF
October 25th, 2013 | 1114 replies | 79,952 views


Release Date: 10/28/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Haha, haha. Arcade Fire, ladies and gentlemen!

I’m just gonna be straight up and admit that I really don’t remember much about The Suburbs, and I’m going to make an educated guess and assume that most non-diehards probably don’t either. After becoming the biggest indie band since…well pretty much ever, Arcade Fire just sort of gave us an Arcade Fire album. It was different, but was it the evolution we saw from Funeral to Neon Bible? No. Which is why Reflektor is such an important album for the band: it’s Arcade Fire expanding and pushing their sound forward, while reminding us that Win Butler and crew are way more self aware than we ever gave them credit for.

Reflektor is deeply rooted in the 80s, and while it draws equally from new-wave, post-punk and overblown arena rock, it’s hard to not feel like the band just transplanted back thirty years ago. However, unlike most of the retro-pastiche indie scene that’s been exploding the past few years, Arcade Fire does so with a wink and a nod to the audience. The first disc of the record features live audio intro/outro takes on most the tracks, giving the disc a laid back air of goofiness that makes the 80s worship feel more like tribute and artistic direction than just lazy theft and pandering. The production by LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy is also a huge plus, as the disc’s levels are as well balanced crisply placed as can possibly be. It’s a lush and absolutely gorgeous sounding album, to say the least.

It’s what the band does with their hipster-club ready dance songs that really lifts Reflektor up, however. Whereas the first disc takes us on a journey through Bowie-esque jams and jangle-pop bops, disc two flips that on its head by creating a much more dynamic and profound atmosphere. The album is called Reflektor for more than just a song title; the second half seems to take the sonic avenues explored by disc one and twist and weave them into much more classically bombastic and ‘epic’ Arcade Fire songs. The second disc is devoid of the tongue in cheek self applause and random bouts of Germs punk fury, instead exploring more repetitive and hypnotic versions of the sounds they first presented to us on the previous disc. As the final twelve eleven minute track “Supersymmetry” seeks to break down the themes they’ve presented both musically and lyrically (the album deals heavily with the perception of the self from the other, albeit with the trademark Win Butler vague randomness that causes its message to become diluted and messy) and the album loops back into “Reflektor”, the overall purpose of the dual disc aspect of an album that, truth be told, really could have fit onto one disc, really begins to take shape.

A grand concept and meta-outlook on the sequencing of the album can’t completely override its faults, however. While I can’t imagine Reflektor being the same album with the same level of intrigue without all of the cuts, at 75 minutes the record is just too long for the average music listener. The album finds itself in a catch 22, where if something was cut the record would feel incomplete but with all of its parts intact instead feels bloated and full of itself. And with Butler’s voice still being fairly one note and draining over the full course of a record (still waiting on a performance to top “Intervention”, six years later), Reflektor does collapse in on itself at times.

Frankly, that’s completely fine. There are enough interesting motifs and musical adventuring on Reflektor that the negatives seem inconsequential on the whole. Is it the perfect album fans have been waiting for since Funeral? No, and Arcade Fire will probably never make a perfect record. They’re a band that prides itself on doing whatever the hell they want, and this time they’ve certainly made a record worthy of intense scrutiny and dissection. Now let’s just hope we can see what they will do next, and that they don’t break up from the backlash from failing to make another “Wake Up” yet again.

Also, protip to second time listeners: listen to the second disc, starting with “Here Comes the Night Time II" before the first disc on your second listen. Believe me, it’ll really help you to get a feel for the record.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2013



16071 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

lol first!

Digging: Trophy Scars - Holy Vacants

RadicalEd
October 25th 2013



2437 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review dude. Love it. Pretty much my feelings on the album.

Gyromania
October 25th 2013



14647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"disc two flips that on it’s head"

its*

good review. still haven't heard this but i have it on my ipod.

Gyromania
October 25th 2013



14647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

also: "to take the sonic avenues explored by disc on"



greg84
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2013



7162 Comments


the 80’s > the 80s

Great write-up, though.

Digging: Floor - Oblation

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2013



16071 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

who cares about apostrophes when I become supreme overlord of the English language I will eradicate their existence entirely.

RadicalEd
October 25th 2013



2437 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lol.

Gyromania
October 25th 2013



14647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ignorance!

you did it a couple other times too. FIX NOW

wabbit
October 25th 2013



6742 Comments


Killin' vibes

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2013



16071 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I fixed like two of them and now I'm listening to Crvsades so I stopped caring

Gyromania
October 25th 2013



14647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

lol you didn't fix the one i specifically quoted!

staff be slippin, mang

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2013



16071 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

How to get to staff:

Be funny
Write 100 sludge metal reviews in a year

only two ways nothing else matters

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
October 25th 2013



1546 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"As the final twelve eleven minute track “Supersymmetry” seeks to break down the themes they’ve presented both musically and lyrically (the album deals heavily with the perception of the self from the other, albeit with the trademark Win Butler vague randomness that causes it’s message to become diluted and messy) and the album loops back into “Reflektor”, the overall purpose of the dual disc aspect of an album that, truth be told, really could have fit onto one disc really begins."

While I understand what you mean here, the sentence is a little too wordy and should probably be broken up I think. The "...really begins" part at the end especially throws it off. Maybe a comma is needed right before that?


Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2013



16071 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Oh wow I must be tired, I had fixed that but I guess I copy pasted a slightly earlier version of my review. whoops.

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
October 25th 2013



1546 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

pretty much summed up my feelings for the album as well though, except I haven't tried that trick of listening to it from "Here Comes the Night Time II." I'll be sure to try it though.

Veldin
October 25th 2013



911 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Apostrophes aren't all bad, look at Frank Zappa's album Apostrophes'. Review is excellent and such. Good work!

Digging: Trophy Scars - Holy Vacants

ReturnOfTheDnor
October 25th 2013



893 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Review was terrible. Hanson sucks dick.

PunchforPunch
October 25th 2013



5290 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

You've almost convinced me to check this out

Digging: Vril - Torus

klap
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2013



9998 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7 | Sound Off

world's first Arcade Fire/Germs comparison

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2013



16071 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

lol i was wondering if anyone was going to point that out



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