Chosen and written by Sean May.
Few bands out there could pull David Bowie to do backup vocals for them, but on “Reflektor” the lead single from the album of the same name, the Thin White Duke’s voice adds an extra layer of greatness to an already great song.
Reflektor is very much colored by not just Arcade Fire themselves, but the people they worked with on the album. Though Bowie’s contribution is a great addition to a single song, the bigger contribution comes from former (pause for tears) LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy, who produced the album along with the band.
What follows is something that doesn’t quite sound like an Arcade Fire album, but also doesn’t sound like an LCD Soundsystem album, but is a rare case where two divergent styles merge to produce an album that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Arcade Fire and Murphy, with Reflektor, take us on a journey that feels like a long night in a sweaty, neon-tinged dancehall in some spectral Caribbean island. The hallucinatory qualities of songs like “Here Comes The Night Time” and “Flashbulb Eyes” elevate the album to the cinematic heights Arcade Fire is known for.
The album is long, and when compared to the band’s previous three albums, it’s perhaps a little overly epic, but the new dancehall influenced sound suits Arcade Fire well, and it shows that the band isn’t content with making a dozen different versions of Funeral.
Written by Matt Doyle.
I was intimidated by this album when it leaked honestly. With Arcade Fire’s return, their ever-increasing list of supposed collaborators, the rumored drastic change in musical style, the hype and buzz surrounding the single release, all occurring relatively quickly, the album was set up perfectly for a fall. So when the album finally leaked, I held off from listening, as the task had suddenly become this huge undertaking with a lot riding on it, somehow. With this kind of attention, how could one possible appreciate Reflektor in full in the correct mindset?
Admittedly this is the main reason that this album did not get into my top 5 list; the reluctance to actually just sit down and listen to it and enjoy. Reflektor is a fresh and confident march into the electro-pop market while still retaining their musically dense indie soundscape. James Murphy’s influence is applied with a tar brush on some tracks, but it still all comes together to form accomplished, expansive and euphoric music.
This album is such an intriguing step in Arcade Fire’s progression that it almost makes you start to consider what all the fuss about The Suburbs was…