Reflektor Album Review
Released: October 28, 2013
Genre: Indie Rock, Art Rock, Post- Disco, Alternative Dance
A few days ago Lou Reed died. The flickering light of one of the world’s last true rock stars dimmed into black. Light is such an incredibly convoluted and deeply perplexing topic to read into; try to imagine a world without light, it’s simply beyond our comprehension. Kurt Cobain once said that the sun is gone, but I have a light, at this moment in time Reflektor is my light.
Radiance has always been a constant for Arcade Fire. Throughout their studio discography it’s featured in the form of a fluorescent cynicism (Neon Bible) or the Half Light saga on their most recent and Grammy award winning Suburbs LP. After a two year sabbatical The Reflektors, as their re-branded live shows would have you label them, have been infected with the eccentric cultures and rhythms of the Haitian and Jamaican carnival scene and produced what is their most visceral and groove-driven record yet.
Dance music is cultivated by the masses, for the masses. The physicality of it is what makes it such a hypnotic branch of music. There is a certain spirituality to jiving, or in my case flailing, in the dark with hordes of strangers to various bleeps, bloops and oscillating synthesizers. Arcade Fire have dug deep into the recesses of dance culture and encapsulated the most fluctuating and soul-writhing aspects of it while simultaneously keeping the Indie-rock appeal that made their previous releases such lucrative endeavors, they are genuine pioneers of genre. That said, having James Murphy at the forefront of your records production might have some weight into the outcome and transformation of a bands sonic direction. Appearances from the likes of the LCD Soundsystem wizard and backing vocals from a Mr.Bowie contribute to, but don’t necessarily epitomize, the recent adaptations to Arcade Fire’s stylistic interests.
Opening track “Reflektor” boasts an array of pulsating synths, calculated hand percussion and an aura of despondency as Win Butler sighs If this is heaven/I don’t know what it’s for; apathy being another key theme that’s apparent throughout this record. “Normal Person” hears Win hesitantly croon about his indecisiveness towards rock music. You wouldn’t believe it as familiar staccato guitars and melodic vocal hooks embed themselves in tracks like “You Already Know”.What we do know through Reflektor is that Win Butler’s mind is far more intricate than the previous three albums gave us a peek into.
Whether it’s the licks of existential and Kierkegaard philosophy integral to “Here Comes The Night” or the way he curiously laments whether the camera really does take your soul? A comment on publicity culture? Possibly, but coupled with the Caribbean rhythm and flourish of steel drums Win has most likely been taken by the spirit of the locals he’s recently been exposed to. Win’s charisma glows on these tracks; he performs with such vitality and honesty, his delivery on this record is like none we’ve ever seen, a master reflektor.
An album of two halves Reflektor is a dense 75 minutes breaching and cleansing every crevice of the musical palette. Though it touches on some unsettling themes it remains an glowing and immersive experience throughout. The descent from alternative rock fuzz to a cantering bass of “Joan of Arc” or the dreamy afrobeat of “Afterlife”, Arcade Fire have remoulded themselves with a gleaming dance flair. With tracks lasting up to 11 minutes it can appear a daunting listen but the quality of tracks ensures that no fat remains untrimmed. Forever lighting the dance floor in my mind Reflektor perfectly blends instrumental versatility with seamless production to make one of the best releases of the year; a perpetual light as the days get darker.
PRETTY NEAT MUSIC
FAV TRACKS: ALL OF THEM
LEAST FAV TRACKS: NONE OF THEM
Will Butler is second year University student from the UK and radio show presenter for the local station. He found the PNG guys through Reddit and is looking forward to working with them to cover the best the music scene has to offer, on both sides of the pond! Keep it Neat!
I also run a blog at Hits Are For Squares <– (Click Words For Link!)