Arcade Fire — Reflektor
Rs. 150 (MP3); Rs. 1,068 (CD)
“Am I cool enough for you?” sings Win Butler on ‘Normal Person’, which is clearly as noisy and rock as the seven-piece Canadian indie rock band gets on its fourth album, Reflektor. That line from Butler, though, is telling of the band’s status in mainstream rock. Its last album The Suburbs made it surprise winners at the 2011 Grammys, bagging Album of the Year. The bestowment even pushed album sales, but Arcade Fire is still considered a band for hipsters, with its cool quotient.
Its 75-minute epic two-disc album Reflektor,however, sees a band that’s not at all shaken by its previous success, experimenting as much as it wants, while carrying forth familiar elements of baroque and dark rock.
On Reflektor, Arcade Fire keeps things as aesthetic as can be, going from keying organ notes to violins to dreamy choruses. Butler and Chassagne’s bilingual approach (with Butler singing in English and Chassagne in French) to the opening title track ‘Reflektor’ is what immediately grabs attention, apart from it being noisy and (if you pay enough attention) featuring David Bowie on backing vocals. Instrumental movements on longer songs such as the U2-esque ‘Awful Sound (Oh, Eurydice)’ beautifully justify what a seven-piece band can do to make every second a trip. But once you’ve heard a track build up like that, you really want the following track, ‘It’s Never Over (Oh, Orpheus)’ to pack a punch. Apart from a sinister funk beat somewhere toward the middle of the six-minute track, it comes across as a genre-bending track that tries to interchange mellow and heavy with a flow that’s actually disruptive.
Yet, this seems like the best track to sum up the experience that is Reflektor. As it fades into ‘Porno’, you hear synth matching drums in a fashion that’s quite familiar — that’s the signature of producer James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, who’s given Arcade Fire an electro edge on tracks like these. It sounds like British animated band Gorillaz now, in terms of the sound, but Win Butler and his wife/co-vocalist Regine Chassagne smooth it over with their reverb-laden vocals.
What’s most important about Reflektor is the Jamaican influences that it brings forward in songs such as the dance-paced heart-breaker ‘Afterlife’ and the epic trip that is ‘Here Comes The Night Time’. While the latter has a star-studded video directed by Roman Coppola, starring everyone from Bono to Ben Stiller, the song itself is a standout celebration tune, each tone and melody suited for, as is suggested in the title, the night time.