TDP Review: Arcade Fire- ‘Reflektor’

For Fans Of: The Shins, Grizzly Bear and Sufjan Stevens

Arcade Fire recently released their fourth LP titled Reflektor. The critically acclaimed album Suburbs, released in 2010, was thought to define their style of music. However, Reflektor is an album that exemplifies the many different styles of Arcade Fire.

The album opens with the title track “Reflektor,” which is an interesting listen. The light techno beat in the background emphasizes Arcade Fire’s electronica vibe, and serves as a fitting backdrop to the thoughtful lyrics. Lyrically, the song centers on the problems implicit in developing an individual identity and finding connections with others. The line “If this is heaven I need something more, a place to be alone,” highlights the need for self discovery. While the lyrics, “I see you on the other side, we all got things to hide” suggest the presence of duality in everyone. The song also displays the problems of a judgmental society with the lyrics, “I want to break free, but will they break me.” While expressing the idea that the connections and understanding we search for are not easily obtained, the song emphasizes insecurity and the fear of showing an authentic self. When we find what we think is authenticity, it is “just a reflektor.”

As the album progresses, another standout song, “Here Comes The Night Time,” displays questioning for religion and an exploration of conflicts many face when considering faith. The lyrics emphasize the selectiveness of entering a higher and better world with lines like “behind the gate they won’t let you in,” which acts as a soft critique of religion. This tone continues when the band asks,“If there’s no music in heaven, then what’s it for?”. The lyrics, although serious in nature, are masterfully paired with playful, almost tropical piano, chords. This incongruity reflects the disharmony people feel when addressing these questions.

The style of the album shifts slightly with the next few tracks. “Normal Person” is a true rock song with a heavy guitar presence and an emphasis on drums. This rock sound continues with the song “You Already Know,” which has a solid baseline and pleasing chorus. Another rocking track with a killer baseline is “Joan of Arc.” The soft and melodious French phrases interspersed with empowering lines like “tell the boys I’ll follow you,” displays an admiration of a true heroine.

Another focal point in the LP is Greek mythology, which is most evident in the song, “It’s Never Over (Hey Orpheus).” Orpheus, a legendary figure in Greek myth, was such an amazing musician and poet that he was said to have the ability to enchant all living things with his music. The song’s electronica sound and layered lyrics work to reinforce the essential and enduring nature of music.

My personal favorite song, “Afterlife” is towards the end of the album and nicely balances a mix of electronic and rock sounds. The song displays love, especially love staying strong through difficult times. The prominent chorus begs the question “Can we scream and shout, till we work it out,” displaying the desire to heal an important relationship. Then, the realization of the relationship’s end becomes clear, and the questioning takes a philosophical turn.  “When love is gone, where does it go?” The ambiguities in the song, which uses language typical of love songs and questions regarding religion, provides a spiritual subtext and has a lasting impact.

Overall, I was impressed with the album. Arcade Fire made a bold statement with the choice to make use of varying styles of music on Reflektor, and somehow it worked out very well. Infusions of a jazzy saxophone throughout a few of the songs, the incorporation of electronic sounds typical of the band, and some straight up rock resonance make the album an admirably diverse collection. Reflektor represents a wide variety of music for many different fanbases. Arcade Fire has put out a variegated piece of music that does not disappoint.

OVERALL SCORE: 4.5/5

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