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Arcade Fire – Reflektor

November 2, 2013

AF Ref

After years of Arcade Fire being hipster darlings, it seems like all the hipsters are now haters.  I assume they resent that Arcade Fire is now mainstream and the U2 of their generation.  I love the way Arcade Fire has hyped the album – they have attracted attention without naked self-licking.

I think this is an epic album,  For me it is their Achtung Baby – an appropriate nod to Euro-disco pop without loosing their soul.  Their sound, but not; exactly what makes a career in pop music: constantly shape shifting.   Yesterday I played through the full Arcade Fire catalog on a long bike ride.  With each album you could hear the careful trajectory from quirky indies to full pop stars (with Grammy’s under their arms – popular and critically acclaimed). With Reflector they have arrived at their destination – perfect intelligent pop in the tradition of The Beatles, The Stones, Bowie, U2 and Radiohead.   Every Arcade Fire album has been different, yet not schizophrenic – it has been very natural organic/natural growth.

Quick thoughts on each of the cuts:

  1. The opening cut and current single “Reflektor” is a fun and danceable; hip disco – competitive with anything on the recent Daft Punk smash – it even has a  Bowie (Arcade Fire mentor) cameo.
  2. “We Exist” has an infectious bass line that could almost be derivative of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” (I love Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet – it a pop masterpiece – this is not a snarky or ironic complement).
  3. “Flashbulb Eyes” A bit of a a reggae lilt without being obvious,  yet a rock song.
  4. “Here Comes The Nighttime” – A traditional Arcade Fire – a song that would not have been out-of-place on previous albums.  Richly textured with great instrumentation.
  5. “Normal Person” is a contemporary T-Rex romp.
  6. “You Already Know” is bouncy pop – think of an arena version of Bell and Sebastian.
  7. “Joan of Arc” has a Blondie “Heart of Glass” feel, but thicker and meatier.
  8. “Here Comes The Nighttime II” is a sub-three minute mini-suite in the spirit of The Beatles.
  9. “Awful Sound” – Very cool big drum sound – a bit of a Flaming Lips vibe.
  10. “It’s Never Over” – This is great example of the mash-up of the established Arcade Fire and the Euro-disco styling of this album.
  11. “Porno” is the best Cure song I have heard in years!
  12. “Afterlife” – great atmospheric anthem – this should have been the last song (and they could have saved money on the second CD).
  13. “Supersymetry” – this seems like the only throw-away on the album.  It starts out as a slow atmospheric piece with a nice hook, but the song ends as s a long senseless tail of Coldplay swirl that degenerates into mildly annoying  ambient wallpaper – we are talking over five minutes here!.

Arcade Fire has always had a big and expansive sound and this album continues that tradition.  This band is arena ready. It is fun to play “what’s that influence” as you listen, but it is never imitative, but rather an impressive reinventing of influences within the context of the well established Arcade Fire sound.

I really like this album and I have been playing it to death.  Although I own the whole Arcade Fire catalog and have loved various songs along the way, this is the first of their albums that really resonates with me.  Clearly on my top 10 for 2013 and good enough to have purchased the vinyl edition!  Thanks for living up to the hype Arcade Fire!

P.S – Listening to the first Arcade Fire album Funeral, I was struck by how they really positioned pop ears for the current wave of folk rock of Mumford and Sons, Lumineers, Avett Brothers, et al.  I can’t describe it – it just seems those bands’ popularity makes more sense post Arcade Fire’s debut. 


From → Music Reviews

  1. Patrick Nau permalink

    Jim–the depth of your musical knowledge is really quite amazing.

    • Well thank you, but it is always amazing how much you don’t know – I am always running into people who know more. I am always pretty late to the party too – rarely do I discover anything new. Unlike my son Pwelbs

      A new artist that is getting lots of press and has a big hit song is Lorde – he singled her out as someone to watch for almost a year ago.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Catchgroove’s Best of 2013 (Albums) | Axl's Catch Groove
  2. Arcade Fire – Everything Now + Live at Lollapalooza 2017 (Pre-Infinite Content Tour) | Axl's Catch Groove

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