13 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

With a penchant for theatrical indie anthems, Montreal’s Arcade Fire has amassed a broad international following without compromising its restless artistic vision. For the follow-up to 2010’s GRAMMY®-winning release The Suburbs, the band enlisted the production skills of LCD Soundsystem mastermind James Murphy. At more than seven minutes long, the title track’s hypnotic, futuristic disco groove demonstrates a sparkling chemistry to start AF’s fourth studio endeavor: a double album in concept and in length. Shades of Roxy Music, David Bowie (who’s a fan and lent a vocal to the title track), and Talking Heads continue to color the established Arcade Fire sounds. But there’s a modern grandiosity to the full-on arrangements of “We Exist,” “Here Comes the Night Time,” “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice),” and “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)”—all songs tipping past the five-minute point—that show the married couple of Win Butler and Regine Chassagne are using their mainstream success to expand their creative reach. Concerns of life, love, death, and the afterlife bleed through the multi-octave vocal delivery of husband and wife, but it’s the rhythmic punch that keeps things moving. 

EDITORS’ NOTES

With a penchant for theatrical indie anthems, Montreal’s Arcade Fire has amassed a broad international following without compromising its restless artistic vision. For the follow-up to 2010’s GRAMMY®-winning release The Suburbs, the band enlisted the production skills of LCD Soundsystem mastermind James Murphy. At more than seven minutes long, the title track’s hypnotic, futuristic disco groove demonstrates a sparkling chemistry to start AF’s fourth studio endeavor: a double album in concept and in length. Shades of Roxy Music, David Bowie (who’s a fan and lent a vocal to the title track), and Talking Heads continue to color the established Arcade Fire sounds. But there’s a modern grandiosity to the full-on arrangements of “We Exist,” “Here Comes the Night Time,” “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice),” and “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)”—all songs tipping past the five-minute point—that show the married couple of Win Butler and Regine Chassagne are using their mainstream success to expand their creative reach. Concerns of life, love, death, and the afterlife bleed through the multi-octave vocal delivery of husband and wife, but it’s the rhythmic punch that keeps things moving. 

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11:16 Album Only

Customer Reviews

4 out of 5

1951 Ratings

refleKtor

BCaperton,

Pre-ordering this album is probably the safest bet you can make as a modern music consumer. This band is so undeniably human and authentic, it would be a crime to not pay. James Murphy and our friends from Montreal are weeks away from releasing a dark disco classic, making it look painfully easy in the process. I've followed this band for years - if you haven't gotten on board, believe the hype. They're the best thing to happen to humanity in quite some time.

I Can't Quite Understand...

IMNeagle2,

...the negative feedback and the resistance to Arcade Fire's "new" sound. I think I'll use my space here to just put forward a few rebuttals to what I see as the most ignorant detractions.

First, for those who are disappointed that this new album departs from some set Arcade Fire sound, I would encourage growing up and reviewing the discography of any rock band not named Nickelback. Every great band--like every great writer or visual artist--pushes the boundaries of their work and their medium, or their product necessarily suffers stagnation. I don't know many people who think the Beatles would've been better foregoing Sgt. Pepper's or the White Album in order to preserve that Beatles for Sale sound.

For those complaining of the disco/techno vibe present on many of the tracks, I would encourage revisiting all of Arcade Fire's previous works. This band has always put out some fantastically danceable and groovy tracks, though perhaps not always so laden with the 70s styled synths and arrangements. One of the best songs off of The Suburbs, "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)," is MUCH more disco sounding than anything from Reflektor; and there's not a person out there who can convince me that this song or this band "rocks" any less for drawing from that musical genre. Nobody seems to care when a rock band goes a little country or folksy or bluesy--most people welcome that with open arms--but when people hear "disco" in connection with a rock and roll band, it's over. I don't get it.

Finally, for those who claim that this album lacks the musicianship or craft of Arcade Fire's previous works, I recommend listening to Funeral on headphones from start to finish and then following that up with Reflektor on headphones from start to finish. Then, do the same for Neon Bible and The Suburbs. I defy you to point out to me where the craft and skill is lacking on Reflektor. People are miffed about synthesizers, but really LISTEN to the arrangements on those songs where they're being used, and you'll see that the compositions are as impressive as anything else they've recorded.

And, just for those who haven't yet listened and might be getting the impression that Reflektor could be part of the ABBA catalogue, Arcade Fire have lost none of their guitar-based hard-rocking sensibility. Sometimes the riffs aren't as bare and raw as they were on Funeral, but they're nonetheless powerful and infectious.

Buy this album and keep it playing (preferably in your car at high volume) for at least a few times through before forming your opinion, and certainly before posting an uninformed, juvenile review.

About Arcade Fire

A combination of indie rock muscle and theatrical, unapologetic bombast turned Arcade Fire into indie royalty in the early 2000s. Originally comprised of Régine Chassagne, Richard Parry, Tim Kingsbury, and brothers William and Win Butler, the group formed during the summer of 2003, after Win spotted Chassagne singing jazz standards at a Montreal art exhibit. The grandson of famed swing-era bandleader Alvino Rey, Win was quickly charmed by Chassagne's performance, leading the two to launch a songwriting partnership. Romance followed shortly thereafter, and the duo expanded its sound by gathering Parry on organ, Kingsbury on bass, and Win Butler's younger brother, William, on synthesizer and percussion. Drawing from the bandmates' varied influences, Arcade Fire began mining an eclectic mix of bossa nova, punk, French chanson, and classically tinged pop music, referencing everything from U2's passion to David Bowie's eclecticism in the process.

Arcade Fire issued a self-titled EP in 2003, having briefly retreated to Maine for the recording sessions. Propelled by Win Butler's quavering vocals and his bandmates' symphonic swells, the disc helped earn the band an official offer from Merge Records. The bandmates' luck faltered later that year, however, when Chassagne's grandmother passed away. The Butler brothers' grandfather followed suit in March 2004, and Parry's aunt died one month later. Seeking catharsis in the studio, the members of Arcade Fire funneled their energies into the creation of Funeral. Released in September 2004, the debut album was met with unanimous acclaim -- both commercially and critically -- and Arcade Fire found themselves maintaining a nearly constant presence on the road, playing such high-profile festivals as Lollapalooza and Coachella between a slew of smaller club dates. They also appeared on the cover of Time magazine's Canadian edition, garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album, rubbed shoulders with superfan David Bowie, and toured alongside U2.

Following an exhausting year, Arcade Fire decamped to a church outside of Montreal to work on a second release. The ambitious Neon Bible arrived in March 2007, featuring such grand ornamentations as a pipe organ, a military choir, and a full orchestra. The album peaked at number two and sparked another tour, which found the band playing more than 120 shows over the course of a year. When touring wrapped up in early 2008, Arcade Fire played several shows in support of presidential candidate Barack Obama before beginning work on a third album. The resulting Suburbs, an eclectic 16-track ode to childhood, suburban sprawl, and middle-class dreams both won and lost, arrived on August 2, 2010. The record was universally acclaimed and reached number one in both the U.S. and U.K. album charts. The following year they won a host of awards, including prestigious accolades such as a Grammy for Album of the Year, the Polaris Prize, and BRIT awards for both Best International Album and Group, among other honors and nominations.

Their success followed them on the road as they sold out shows across the globe, and in 2011 they released a deluxe version of Suburbs that included a short film -- titled Scenes from the Suburbs -- directed by Spike Jonze. They began work on their fourth release in 2012 and enlisted LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy for production duties. The critically acclaimed double album, entitled Reflektor, was released in October 2013, and was followed by an ambitious world tour. A documentary film of the tour, The Reflektor Tapes, was released in 2015, as was an accompanying EP of the same name. May 2017 saw Arcade Fire perform an intimate secret show in Montreal, where they played six new songs. At the end of the month they released "Everything Now," the lead single from the highly anticipated fifth studio album of the same name, which dropped later that July. Featuring production by Daft Punk's Thomas Bangalter, Pulp's Steve Mackey, Portishead's Geoff Barrow, and longtime producer Markus Dravs, Everything Now also featured the singles "Creature Comfort" and "Electric Blue." ~ Andrew Leahey

  • ORIGIN
    Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • GENRE
    Alternative
  • FORMED
    Jun 2003

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