By Haley Beyma
“Reflektor,” Arcade Fire’s fourth album, has been touted as one of the best indie-rock albums of 2013.
“Reflektor” is larger than anything Arcade Fire has done before. The two-disc set is long and windy in typical Arcade Fire fashion, but feels like a concise, cohesive collection.
However, this album exhibits the signs of a definite transition in the band. It seems as though Arcade Fire is using some indie-dance music as influence, some tracks are almost indie-pop. The integration of indie dance music is one of the factors that make “Reflektor” so successful.
Arcade Fire’s fame is notoriously polarizing. Some critics believe that they are the next U2, others think they are completely overrated, yet “Reflektor” has received glowing reviews.
This is because “Reflektor,” as a concept album, is ushering in a new era of Arcade Fire—–an era where they are finally living up to high expectations and pushing away an aura of self-importance.
Volume 1 has more progressive rhythms than Volume 2. Volume 2 slows down the album a brings a march-y beat back to the album and sounds more like a typical Arcade Fire hit—-which could be a good or bad thing depending on one’s opinion of the band.
“Here Comes the Night Time” is the best song on the album, complete with a cool tempo change. The song starts with a happy, celebratory beat but then switches up to something more dub-based.
The vocals on album are amazing and by far the best the band has ever produced. Chassagne’s harmonies on “Reflektor,” “Joan of Arc” and “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)” are crisp, clean and commanding.
“Reflektor” is a great single, with heavy percussion and a cool rhythm. The bridge is thrilling and has that synth-pop-bass note that Arcade Fire has perfected.
However, “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)” falls short. This is the only place in the album where Arcade’s Fire sometimes self-indulgent attitude comes through. “Awful Sound” tries to be a Beatles song and inevitably, it falls short—-however, it’s a decent effort.
Another weak point of this album is the songwriting. Though the vocals are on point, the songwriting by Butler leaves a lot to be desired. The lyrics are a bit cliché at times and it makes the band sound a bit immature.
Minor songwriting shortcomings aside, this album has far more high points than pitfalls. Songs like “Reflektor,” “Normal Person” and the Santigold-like “Flashbulb Eyes” are almost certain to become hugely successful singles in the indie-alternative genre.
In general, the two-disc set delivers the grandeur and drama that Arcade Fire promised. It is rare that an avant-garde album such as this comes together to create an experience that seems sufficiently eloquent and appropriately artsy without appearing cheesy and contrived.
“Reflektor” is a considerable rarity in the expansive alternative field—–Arcade Fire has delivered an album with bold promises of greatness and succeeds at these goals.