Arcade Fire, ‘Reflektor’

“Reflektor” gets 4.5 out of five stars.

Mack Hayden , Writer

If you aren’t listening to “Reflektor,” then I hope you’re catatonic. When Arcade Fire releases an album, people listen. It’s been a decade since they debuted with their self-titled EP and three years since their last opus, “The Suburbs,” which shockingly won the Grammy for album of the year. When 2010 rolled around, only Radiohead’s “Kid A” was mentioned more in “Best Albums of The Decade” lists than “Funeral,” Arcade Fire’s first full-length album. So, again, if you aren’t listening to “Reflektor,” I hope you’re catatonic.


At first listen, “Reflektor” seems to be the least profound and conceptual of their releases. The double album experiments with more sonic styles than anything they’ve done so far. It’s the most ‘80s influenced album they’ve done. “We Don’t Exist” features a bassline New Order would be proud of. “You Already Know” is a hoppy, Smiths-style song if there ever was one. “Afterlife” is as ethereal as “Forever Young” by Alphaville.

Contrary to what most reviews are saying, “Reflektor” isn’t so dancey it could be a Daft Punk record, but there’s definitely plenty of room to shake a leg or two over its hour and fifteen minute playing time. Producer James Murphy, formerly of LCD Soundsystem, makes his presence known but not too noticeably. You can see his handiwork but only insofar as it furthers the goals Arcade Fire must have set for themselves.

Going in an experimental and/or danceable direction after a deeply reflective concept album is a tried and true method for musical growth. U2’s spiritually minded “The Joshua Tree” gave way to the ironic “Achtung Baby.” Talking Heads’ “Fear of Music,” an art-punk statement of paranoia, transitioned into the dark, afro-pop discotheques of “Remain in Light” and “Speaking in Tongues.” Most notably, the brooding Joy Division reassembled into the shiny and synthesized New Order.

Just because the music got fun and experimental doesn’t mean the artists sold their souls. “Reflektor” is more guarded about its spiritual and moral sympathies than “The Suburbs,” but its concerns remain the same. Love is won and lost in the nighttime hours, young people struggle for identity and music survives because of its ability to bring light and hope to those in desperation.


Frontman Win Butler told Rolling Stone the new record is as influenced by Søren Kierkegaard as it is by any disco ball. The Danish philosopher’s essay, “The Reflective Age,” details the modern world’s sense of alienation in 1846 as well as any postmodern observer could today. Like Kierkegaard, Butler and company analyze alienation with a lens of faith. But where Kierkegaard’s salvation is Christ, Arcade Fire’s is music.

“Here Comes the Night Time” is based around Butler’s recent trip to Haiti where the missionaries seemed to deride the Haitians’ natural sense of joy when it came to expression, musical or otherwise. “And when they hear the beat / Coming from the street / They lock the door / But if there’s no music / Up in heaven / Then what’s it for?” It’s not the first time heaven is addressed either. On the title track, Butler sings, “If this is heaven / I don’t know what it’s for / If I can’t find you there, I don’t care.”


Arcade Fire is a band whose celebration of humanity should be venerated. They’re a band concerned with the things every self-respecting human being should be concerned with: love, individuality, isolation, the questions of God and meaning. But they also know what it means to have a good time. “Reflektor” proves the band is the ideal party guest — one who’s just as at home on the dance floor as they are at making interesting conversation.

0 0 votes
Article Rating