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Arcade Fire's "Reflektor" Reviewed

what if it’s a dud?

The problem is, “Reflektor” the title track didn’t break pop and didn’t break dance and if that’s the case, what’s the point of Reflektor the album. 80 minutes of beats tied to songs, some of which works, some of which doesn’t but none of it doing what the band want it to do: give them the transition U2 achieved between 1987 and 1991 but back to “Reflektor” the song: there is no “Mysterious Way” to break Reflektor through the fourth wall to the audience.

So if Reflektor isn’t a big time rock album, isn’t Achtung Baby, well then it is a gify to their core audience ,, right? If you love Arcade Fire you’re gonna love Reflektor right? No. Not right. Alyson Camus is a huge Arcade Fire but she is disappointed by it, iut sounds like Arcade Fire imitating Talking Heads imitating James Marshall. It doesn’t have the stirring largeness of prime Arcade Fire; it isn’t all big feelings and big sounds, it moves on its stomach.

So, it is LCD Soundsystem with a bigger sound? Not really, “Normal Person” might fit onto This Is Happening, but it sure wouldn’t be the albums best moment.

So what is it? Reflektor is a major minor work so antiquated you gotta wonder what management were thinking, it does part of what it means to, changing AF to U2, but U2 circa 2010 not 1991. It gives them a product to tour behind but a product that won’t please too many people.

Now here is the kicker.

I’m among those it pleases.

Not all of it, and the first “disc” much more than the second, but I got time in my life for much of these tactical big time disco rock tracks, it might not sell but it sounds terrific. “Reflektor”, whether it sold or otherwise, is a great work, and right through the heart of the first song they blaze on three songs after another, “Here Comes The Night”, “Normal People” and “You Already Know” are so good they pull the entire first part onto a whole other level. “Normal People is exactly what we wanted from this album: it is where disco rock meets AF with a superb synth hook. The first part is something like an “A-“.

The second part is an ambitious disaster. The 11 Minute closer “Supersymmetry”, while obviously there to explain the albums largeness, doesn’t work for me as art or pop, it isn’t “# 9” that’s for sure. It kinda dregs downwards and dies. Perhaps the biggest giveaway is the first song “Here Comes The Nightime II” which isn’t half as good as the song on Part I. It starts off not being fun and it isn’t fun on the “eurydice”/”orpheus” nest two songs, a concept so bland it hasn’t been happening for a coupla thousand years. Not all classical short hand works, you know. And while I’ll give em “Porno” and “Afterlife” it isn’t enough to save the second side which I’d give a “B” and probably would give a “C” if it was a new band.

But none of that is really the problem, the problem is that Reflektor set itself out a job and unlike Remain In Light or Achtung Baby it doesn’t do it and part of the reason is that the age we live in doesn’t lend itself to big super ironic rock statements. It needs to function in smaller bites and while quite a few songs work for me, they don’t appear to work for the peoiple they are aimed for.

Back to the beginning: if the magnificent “Reflektor” doesn’t break pop OR dance, what will? And if the point of the album is to reboot the franchise, what will they do with a dud? They will tour it and become Arena rockers.

Grade: B+

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