Thursday, 12 December 2013

Albums of the Year 2013 #8 - Arcade Fire - Reflektor

On paper Arcade Fire’s new album sounded like it could be a disaster. When a rock band says that they’ve been informed and influenced by the voodoo rhythms of Haiti and Jamaica, that the forthcoming release is to be a double CD, the majority of the songs are over six minutes long and that the album will include a dub / reggae track, the two immediate thoughts are ‘over-indulgence’ and ’what drugs are they on?’ Thankfully it isn’t the catastrophe it could have been; instead Reflektor's an album that lives up to its ‘important release’ hype. It finds a band taking risks, throwing all sorts of art-school ideas into the pot and seeing what sticks.

In many ways Reflektor is Arcade Fire’s Sandinista. For here is a  rock band playing with rhythm, be it funk, reggae or carnival grooves, but all restrained by their rock traditions. Of course being creative and experimenting is one thing, but without the tunes it would suck. Thankfully there’s plenty of tunes under the bands new found groovy belt. The carnival dub of Flashbulb Eyes is criminally short at under three minutes, whereas the tropical ride of Here Comes The Night Time has a lilting toy town riff that could quite easily result in some strange shapes being pulled when the band play it live. Best of all however is Afterlife, a juggernaut of a pop song which builds to a joyous and epic finale. No wonder Greta Gerwig wanted to dance to it at the You Tube awards (see below).

In a world full of have it all internet accessibility where many albums are listened to once and then discarded for the next shiny thing, Reflektor is the opposite. It’s an inspiring art-rock album that takes a number of listens to even start to comprehend, but once you do, the chances are you might just think that it’s their bravest and finest work to date.

Arcade Fire - Afterlife (You Tube Awards Performance Video)

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