Much has happened for Montreal band Arcade Fire since their last record in 2010, including winning the Album of the Year Grammy and the Polaris Prize for The Suburbs. For the band, once the dust settles on an album, they wipe the slate clean and start over from scratch with a new idea to conquer.
Their fourth album Reflektor is the band’s most challenging record, this time leaving the conquering up to the listener. It’s not a casual record or one you’d throw on just to have music playing.
It requires attention and devotion.
The record plays with the idea of perception and how everything we know, see, feel and think is based on how we perceive and choose to reflect on it, and in some cases fill in the blanks when necessary.
A lot of the blank-filling deals with life, death and the afterlife – most of which we know nothing about and are left to take what we’re given through the lyrics and music and piece everything together ourselves. In that sense, it can be maddening.
Reflektor is divided into two parts. The first is noticeably more upbeat and inquisitive than the second, which is decidedly downbeat and uneasily resigned.
Yet, the most noticeable thing is that there aren’t any anthems. The closest we get is with the title track, which features a cameo from THE David Bowie.
The album can be summed up with the line “I know you’re living in my mind/but it’s not the same as being alive,” from Supersymmetry, where we often fill in the void of losing a loved one by recreating the memories and experiences in our own minds. Reflektor has recreated its own sense of the afterlife.
While the band plays with many musical styles and influences, such as dance, disco, punk, new wave, glam, and incorporates inspiration from their visit to Haiti, they distance themselves from being the go-to band for huge hook arena anthems that they’ve become known for.
Reflektor is a journey through self-discovery and realization but it’s not for the impulsive. Depending on mood, the album can range from fascinating to dull to frustrating but as long as you’re focused on it, it can be thought-provoking and mystifying.
2. We Exist
3. Flashlight Bulb
4. Here Comes The Night Time
5. Normal Person
6. You Already Know
7. Joan Of Arc
8. Here Comes The Night Time II
9. Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)
10. It’s Never Over (Hey Orpheus)