Arcade Fire's 'Reflektor' - The wait is finally over....
2013 is panning out to be the year of the innovative-but-cryptic marketing campaign. First, there was Daft Punk with their 15-second TV spot teasers during Saturday Night Live’s ad breaks and billboard advertisements on Sunset Strip; then there followed Boards of Canada’s bizarre Record Store Day release, arriving in stores and on shelves unannounced and featuring only a snippet of music with a strange, robotic voice reading out a series of numbers that turned out to be one of a series of clues in a sort of online treasure hunt. More recently, it has been Montreal’s Arcade Fire teasing us all with guessing games.
The writing’s on the wall…
It began in August with some graffiti – strange circular drawings featuring the word ‘Reflektor’ started appearing on walls everywhere from New York to Rome. Then came the mysterious Instagram account and a website for an unknown band called The Reflektors. There followed strange video snippets featuring distant music, a leak of the title track and rumours of collaborations with David Bowie – subsequently confirmed by the band’s manager who stated in an interview with NME a few weeks ago that the title track’s ethereal backing vocals are indeed those of the Thin White Duke.
Finally, this week the wait is over and the band’s long-awaited fourth album is out.
Double the fun…
Ambitiously, Reflektor is a double album – presented as ‘Volumes I & II’ – featuring 13 tracks produced together with none other than LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy. When the opening track and lead single was finally released on September 9th, Murphy’s influence became quite apparent – ‘Reflektor’ (the single) is a pretty lengthy 7 minutes and 41 seconds of infectious, four-to-the-floor disco-rock that sounds pretty much exactly like you would expect an Arcade Fire / Murphy collaboration to sound. That’s not to say it’s predictable – it’s anything but – in fact it really does seem like a perfect marriage, combining a repetitive yet constantly evolving groove with Win Butler’s haunting, whispering vocal.
‘We Exist’ features a driving Moog synth-bass line that initially sounds like something The Four Tops might have done had they been hanging out in 80’s nightclubs, punctuated by stabs of reverberating guitars until a swell of lush strings introduces the chorus.
Other highlights include ‘Normal Person’, with its Velvet-Underground-meets-Robert-Palmer verses and clattering, smash-up-the-piano chorus, and ‘Here Comes The Night’, a track reprised later on the album and featuring carnival-style rhythms that offer the best illustration of what the band meant when they said that the album had been largely inspired by trips to Haiti and Jamaica.
Worth the wait
Even with all the carefully choreographed marketing stunts whetting the appetite and keeping us dangling for weeks on end, Reflektor doesn’t disappoint. Much like some of the world’s most successful acts, such as Radiohead and U2, Arcade Fire are a band that continues to grow and evolve. Even David Bowie jokingly threatened to ‘steal’ the title track if Murphy didn’t get a move on with the mixing. Without a doubt, this is set to be one of the albums of the year.
Arcade Fire's Reflektor is out now to buy in store and available to download from HMV for only £4.99.