Arcade Fire return with their fourth album after the somewhat unexpected success of The Suburbs. With every album the band has tackled with our modern existence, bringing to life the existential feelings so many of us harbor. However, Reflektor feels grander in scale than anything that Arcade Fire have attempted before. Sure the spotlight is bigger after coming out of nowhere to win the Grammy for album of the year, but the band does not seem to be content with their success. They're working as hard, if not harder than ever and they seem to be changing shape in the process. This time around they've enlisted ex-LCD Soundsytem frontman James Murphy on production duties and he has had a great impact on their sound for a good part of the album. It's apparent from the opening title track that this is going to be a new chapter in the story of Arcade Fire. Similar to career defining moments like U2's Achtung Baby and Radiohead's Kid A, this is a band taking a risk and reinventing themselves right before our eyes. Don't worry, though. They have not completely shed their previous identity. However, where they would have channeled the bombast of Bruce Springsteen in the past, they now travel the waters of the Talking Heads and Roxy Music. If anything, Murphy's touch can be felt in the rhythmic interactions within the band and the extended arrangements of the songs. The first half of the album is loaded with these moments, especially the opening cut and "Here Comes The Night Time." The fact that it is so heavily front loaded makes the second half's more somber moments seem like a different album. But things pickup with the second to last track, "Afterlife." It's a testament to Arcade Fire's ability to simultaneously straddle different musical worlds. Reflektor is sure to please the fans and perhaps convert quite a bit more. Limited edition 180 gram double vinyl pressing housed in a gatefold jacket with reflective artwork. Includes digital download card.
- music label: Merge Records 2013
reviewed by Hank Ohs 11/2013
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