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Reflektor | Merge Records
In 2004, Arcade Fire released Funeral, an album with a mix of guitar-driven rock and symphonic orchestrations that laid the groundwork for modern indie rock. By the time 2010’s The Suburbs hit the shelves, the band was topping charts and selling out shows worldwide. Clearly, indie rock was no longer as “indie” as its name suggested.
As with all musical trends, the Montreal-based band’s brand of baroque pop eventually led to dozens of imitators and an oversaturated marketplace.
After bringing in LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy as co-producer in an attempt to stay fresh, Reflektor sees the group adding layers of funk, synthesizers, drum machines, and bongos to their musical palette.
As a result, they manage to craft their freshest album in ages despite occasionally sounding too close to their musical influences. Indeed, songs that sound eerily reminiscent of groups like American art-punks Talking Heads and British jangle-poppers The Smiths abound on Reflektor.
However, emulating your musical heroes isn’t bad if your songs are well written, and Arcade Fire definitely brings the goods with majestic anthems such as “Reflektor” and “Afterlife.”
On the downside, the album is just too long: at two discs spanning nearly 80 minutes, frontman Win Butler’s moaning vocals eventually drag. The first three tracks on the second disc are essentially fillers and could have been cut entirely.
Despite this, Reflektor is still a solid slab of indie rock that proves Arcade Fire are capable of making solid dance songs when they feel like it.