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Album Review

by Arcade Fire

Merge Records

Review Date
31st October 2013
Reviewed by
Paul Larsen

"Do you like rock n' roll music?" sighs Win Butler as the first notes of 'Normal Person' sputter into life around him, "Cause I don't know if I do." The boisterous, mosh-inciting guitar onslaught of the ensuing four minutes would suggest at least a passing interest. And pass it does, as evidenced by the ceaseless parade of genres and styles that make up Arcade Fire's spectacular fourth record, Reflektor.

As the world's first indie supergroup, Arcade Fire could never be accused of lacking ambition but even by their own standards Reflektor makes for intimidating reading on paper. A concept, double album produced by James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem), it was written and recorded in a Jamaican castle and influenced in part by the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice. Throw some heavy afro-Caribbean influences and the odd Bowie cameo into the mix and you'd be excused for dismissing it as a flabby mess before you'd heard a note. What it actually is, however, is brilliant.

Although it clocks in at more than 75 minutes, incredibly, the record feels briefer than 2010's The Suburbs. While it's not without its empty moments, these are never entirely directionless and can even provide welcome relief from successive waves of richly textured disco beats (‘We Exist’), punk guitars (‘Joan of Arc’), dense synths (‘Porno’) and everything else in between. Achingly beautiful and genuinely captivating, Reflektor represents Arcade Fire at their outright best.


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