The long-awaited album turns out to have an impressive soundscape, but is jaded by unnecessarily long songs.
Given that we’ve been waiting for new Arcade Fire since 2010, is it really any wonder that Reflektor has already wormed its way into our heads? The band’s Youtube leak of the album has led to mass hype, a crowd of indie kids crawling over themselves, and a ‘Marmite split’ across the board, especially in light of this year’s stellar releases. With the release of the single, we realised that Arcade Fire’s days as a happy streamer-twirling, rowdy party-on-stage bunch, may well be over – not that that’s a bad thing.
Following Markus Dravs’ reign of production, James Murphy has taken over – front to back of this album. A self-proclaimed Bowie enthusiast, he managed to procure the man himself for the single (if only briefly), and follow in his footsteps withâ€¦ pretty much everything else. Reflektor starts with Chassagne and Butler’s sultry harmonies: “if this is heaven / I just need something more / I need something more / just a place to be alone”, she croons, beckoning the chorus and some super-glitchy synths and eighties-style bursts. It’s kind of like being in a vortex. Maybe. Is that an organ? Christ. It’s a bit like a mental ascent, but wait! The track’s over, and we plunge into bass city with We Exist. What’s even going on?Â
A conclusion on the matter: this album is nearly one and a half hours long. One and a half hours. That’s longer than Daft Punk’s RAM, and I thought that was something only Daft Punk could get away with. See, the problem here isn’t that there’s a problem – it’s more that while every song is fantastic, this album goes from ‘brilliant’, to ‘very good’, with an unnecessary couple of minutes tacked on the end of most of the songs.
Which brings me to this: a fade-out? On the second track? Kinda weak, no? Well, not really, because Flashbulb Eyes is a crashing throwback to dub reggae. From here on out, it becomes incredibly obvious that Murphy misses LCD Soundsystem, because the rest of the album is a huge soundscape investigation into sparse funk, intermingled with spicy grunge, homage to Neon Bible, and little swing tricks (You Already Know).
This album might feel like it never ends, but Reflektor is a bizarre experiment in intimacy that will leave you unsure of whether to dance haphazardly or lie down. Talk about art rock.