Arcade Fire – Reflektor


Instant Classic

I get that The Suburbs was a polarizing record, as it often is when a band decide to change direction and become massively popular as a result of that. But for me, The Suburbs represented a return to great form (not that they ever really fell out of form), filled with delicate mid-tempo pop gems that were easier to digest than the grandiose statements of Neon Bible. It was also evident that the band were trying out different new directions; punk in form of “Month of May”, ABBA vs. krautrock in “Empty Rooms”, and most notably the dance-friendly vibe of “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”. So in the end, it was  hardly a shock that James Murphy was brought in behind the knobs and switches on the next Arcade Fire’s album.

Upon first listen, it’s evident that “Reflektor” is certainly less dramatic and emotionally charged than what we’re accustomed to hearing from the Canadians. What we get instead is Murphy’s trademark punkish disco that sounds vibrant and spirited in true LCD Soundsystem style. And compared to the overall sensation of Arcade Fire’s former albums, “Reflektor” have ditched the Springsteenianism in favour of the spacey disco of mid-70’s Bowie. All this adds up to their most loosely fitted single, much less concerned with formative structures, and it breaches beyond the bands musical comfort zone. The track is buildt upon a bass line vaguely reminiscent of Moroder’s “Chase” and a rhythm section that is undeniably Murphy. The atmosphere is filled with spacey psychedelic horns, and in the end, the only thing that sounds as traditional Arcade Fire, is the refrain. In a year that brought us The Next Day and Random Access Memories, it’s both fitting and comforting to hear their change of direction and hopefully it’s indicative of the sound on the forthcoming album.

Reflektor, a double album comprised of 13 tracks, will be released October 29 via Merge. The title track is out now, also available on Spotify.

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