Arcade Fire, one of Canada’s most revered bands in the indie music scene, released their fourth studio album recently. Reflektor has been making news as well as charts, hitting Billboard’s No. 1 spot the first week it came out. The album, much anticipated after the success of their last album, The Suburbs, delivers a striking package of poetry and music. Arcade Fire has never been afraid to venture into a spiritualistic side with their music, and Reflektor is no exception. The album is actually two discs: the first one is seven tracks, the second is six. Disc one is simple, raw and concrete in its message; disc two is slightly more surrealist and romantic.
In the typical style of Arcade Fire, listening to the album from front to back is an absolute must. A beautiful thing is the way the band incorporates silence into their album. There will be periods of ten seconds between songs where you may look down at your iPod to check that you didn’t accidentally turn it off, then you realize the silence is part of the track. In stark contrast, some tracks transition directly into others, making it hard to distinguish between tracks. Heavy risks are taken in the instrumentals of this album, yet it is meticulously pulled off. From fast tempo switches, to abrupt transitions from a soft melodic track to one of the “heavier” tracks, such as ‘Joan of Arc’ or ‘Normal Person’, there is nothing wrong with this album. The musicians know exactly what they’re trying to accomplish, and they’re gifted enough to be able to make an album with heavy ’80s vibes, soft and somewhat flimsy vocals and poetic lyrics in the style of Rush become a potential Grammy Award winner.
After the release of The Suburbs, the band went to Haiti to perform for the first time. The trip had a huge impact on the band as a whole, and they allowed this encounter to show its face in various aspects of their new record, with incorporation of traditional Haitian instruments and styles.
Despite the complexity of the tracks, they never leave you confused. The meticulousness of the composition makes it impossible for the varied array of instruments to come across as anything other than seamlessly meshed together. The album explores such a wide variety of sounds that whether you love indie music or are more partial to rock, you’ll find a nook in a corner of one of the songs where you’ll be at home. It’s quite exceptional that, although the band has grown so much musically, their sound is recognizably theirs – a refreshing change from the multitude of classic bands who have completely revamped their style in the last few years. The band has outdone itself with this album, almost assuredly one of the best albums released all year, and longtime fans or new listeners will find delight in Refkletor.
For more on Arcade Fire, visit arcadefire.com.