Thursday 7 November 2013

Arcade Fire Improve And Never Look Back

In a recent interview with NME, Win Butler of Canadian group Arcade Fire called themselves the "black sheep of the music industry". He feels they are the weird band in a mainstream context and he may be right. They are one of the most popular indie bands of today, but still a relatively unknown band to the mainstream crowd. Maybe new album Reflektor can change that.

Arcade Fire - Reflektor (Ronald Says 9 out of 10)

Like the previous albums Reflektor is build around a theme, the Orpheus myth. In a nutshell: Orpheus was in love with Eurydice who died. He descends into the underworld and makes a deal with the devil. He's allowed to take her back, but she has to follow behind him and Orpheus can never look back until they make it out. He does look back too soon and loses here forever. More specific Butler and his wife Régine Chassagne were inspired by the movie Black Orpheus who places the myth in modern time Brazil. This theme is running through the record and is displayed in the cover. It is most explicit in the track 'It's Never Over (Oh Orpheus)' where they sing:
Just wait until it's over Wait until it's through
and where it ends in:
Oh Orpheus, Eurydice It's over too soon
Arcade Fire want us to look ahead and not back all the time. It isn't all light material, but then again the band from Montreal doesn't always like to make things easy for us. Title track 'Reflektor' urges us to look away more from our screens and social media. It's just reflecting our ego that was skilfully crafted in Facebook and isn't about our real identity at all. Nor are you chatting to a real person at the other side, but again talking to your reflection. It is the first single off the new album that immediately reveals where the band stands today. LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy is producing the album and David Bowie is guesting on this track. The video directed by Anton Corbijn showed the band wearing bobble heads, trying to get the message of the song across.

This is not the Arcade Fire of the past three albums. This is a new and improved version. They dropped all the remaining timidity and are now blossoming in full. More details, more hidden layers, the Canadians do it all. Less is more? Not for Arcade Fire. They went to Haiti, to the roots of Chassagne's family and were inspired by the music on this Carribbean island. This is most notable in 'Here Comes The Night Time' with it's melodic steel drums.

'Joan of Arc' even starts out as a punk song before it changes into a more mellow tune. Butler sings in 'Normal Person' "Do you like rock 'n' roll music? Cause I don't know if I do". And the the song unfolds into a plain rock 'n' roll song. With all this diversity the addition of James Murphy has a potential risk. It could add yet another factor that pushes things into another direction and cause the album to lose balance and coherence. But the opposite is true. Murphy has added the glue of the album and a light danceable touch to the songs. It is the reason why 'Reflektor' sticks to your head for days. It turns Reflektor into a brilliant album, the best one of the band so far. It may only be just a bit too long. Arcade Fire prove they have turned into the beautiful swan of the music industry.

Listen to 'Reflektor' on Spotify

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