One of the most anticipated albums of 2013 finally was released on Monday when Canada’s Arcade Fire released their 4th album and follow up to the superb ‘The Suburbs’. But does Reflektor deserve its place alongside their previous superb output?
Backed up by a clever viral campaign for weeks the band finally gave us something new when they released the James Murphy produced, lead song Reflektor in September. Starting with an opening almost identical (for about 5 seconds) to Neighborhood 1 from Funeral it soon changes into something all together different with a distinct LCD Soundsystem sound coming through its 7 minutes. Adding the backing of long time admirer David Bowie (a man for whom the word renaissance would be appropriate in 2013).
The pace doesn’t leave off there with We Exist which is more reminiscent of their older works. By the time we get to the 4th track, the heavily caribbean influenced Here Comes the Night Time we know that the style is different to anything they have produced before.
When you think things cannot be any weirder then You Already Know is provided with an intro featuring Jonathan Ross who is recorded introducing the band when they appeared in 2007 (Wim smashed his guitar up during that performance). You Already Know also has a distinct Neon Bible sound to it.
Side 2 (or disc 1 depending on your listening device) closes with Joan of Arc with a jaunty sing a long chorus.
The next part is a real drop off in tempo, Opening with Here Comes the Night Time II, a far quieter, gentle follow up to the first part to this song, the gentle pace carries on through for a couple more tracks, picks up slightly with It’s Never Over and Porno (again the LCD Soundsystem influence comes to the fore).
Afterlife, for me alongside the title track, is the stand out song of the set. I can almost hear it across a muddy Pilton field next summer when Arcade Fire surely will be headlining (and deservedly so). You are left in no doubt that it is an Arcade Fire track pretty quickly.
It all comes to a climax with Supersymmetry, 11 minutes in length though the song appears to end half way through that!
So is it any good? Well it has taken a few listens so far and in all honesty it is probably their weakest album to date but when the 3 that proceeded it were of the quality of Funeral, Neon Bible and Suburbs that is a harsh criticism indeed. It certainly is too long, hence why it is a double disc set. Sides 2 and 4 end with long periods that could have been cut and there is a feeling (at least with me) that a reduction here and, maybe, a couple of tracks and we would have an instant classic on our hands.
What is certain is that this will play brilliantly live alongside their previous cannon of work and I certainly cannot wait to see them once they tour here properly in 2014. It is also one of the most beautifully packaged pieces of vinyl I have ever seen.
Overall a grower and one day could well be considered a classic. After all there are people out there who prefer Kid A to OK Computer!