Believe the hype: Arcade Fire’s new album, ‘Reflektor,’ is real deal
There’s no shortage of hype around Arcade Fire’s new album Reflektor. The thing is: The hype may be justified. An Album of the Year Grammy winner, The Suburbs was a fine release but Reflektor is far more adventurous and interesting. With the help of producer James Murphy, Reflektor blends Caribbean beats, disco, punk and pop to create a mish-mash of musical styles that actually do form a cohesive album. As a fan of Murphy’s work, I hear the influences throughout and wholeheartedly embrace the production even as a longtime Arcade Fire loyalist. This is a much different sound than the earnestness of Neon Bible.
Early reviews (both derisive and favorable) for Reflektor point to comparisons with the Clash’s Sandinista! That was the first thing that struck me when I heard Flashbulb Eyes followed by Here Comes the Night Time on the first “disc” (the physical versions are released as a double album). Those two early songs, one dub style followed by a calypso-sounding number, is reminiscent of the multi-genre Clash classic made more than 30 years ago. But I never feel that Arcade Fire is aping the Clash or anyone else on Reflektor. There are so many good songs, from rockers Normal Person and Joan of Arc to the more dancey Afterlife, We Exist and the title track, that there’s a lot to like here.
I was really skeptical about this album given how commercial success has spoiled so many bands. But Arcade Fire delivers a thoroughly enjoyable record.