Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ryan reviews Arcade Fire's Reflektor

What happens when you reach the top in music, when you are globally hailed as being the best in the music industry? The Beatles broke up and went their separate ways. Kanye went nuts. Elvis became a drug addict. The Arcade Fire, after winning the Grammy for Album of the Year, made a dance album.

Reflekt this, haters!
Arcade Fire’s fourth studio album, Reflektor carries on the band’s tradition of having very catchy songs while capturing the sound of a fledgling indie band. It is amazing that they have maintained their sound after winning such an esteemed award (of which a bunch of terrible albums have been nominated/won ie: Babel). Not only that, but Reflektor is a double album. Songs such as “Normal Person” and “Joan of Arc” really make evident that creatively the Fire are still at the top of their game. This album, however, blends the past with a very dark present; adding in a lot of electronic elements and macabre lyrics to dampen the mood throughout. The song “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)” being the most evident example of this darkening tone(perhaps maturing?).
What did I mean when they made a dance album, however? In Reflektor, they released quite a few songs with deep dance influences. Songs such as “Here Comes the Night Time” and “Afterlife” draw heavily from different dance genres. The former sounding more like an M.I.A. song and the latter like an early 80’s pop song (ala the Go-Go’s). The sound is mostly captured by the drums, bass and upwards of three keyboards/synths, giving the relatively dark lyrics a peppy feels. Every time I listen to those two songs I instantly think of being at a small, hidden bar in Milwaukee.
There were a couple of parts of this album that I didn’t particularly enjoy. The first being that this double album only had thirteen total songs. The final song “Supersymmetry” being mostly ambient filler. They easily could have shaved it down to a single album(or added more content!). I was also not a huge fan of the song “Flashbulb Eyes,” it tries a little too hard to emulate dub reggae, my least favorite genre. Other than those few criticisms I think overall the album is good, not Album of the Year good, but I don’t think many albums are.
My favorite song on the album is the titular “Reflektor”. It’s catchy beat is that of mid-seventies disco, complete with a range of percussion instruments sprinkled about. Clocking in at seven and a half minutes, this single sets the tone for the following songs very well. Of course, the best part is when David Bowie makes a very surprising contribution. A double album collaboration with Bowie and The ‘Fire sounds like just what the ailing world needs, but sadly David Bowie was only on the one track, maybe next year. The album is still a success nonetheless.

Key Tracks: “Reflektor”, “You Already Know”, “It’s Never Over (Hey Orpheus)”

Final Say: B+