My feelings are very divided about Arcade Fire's fourth album. While I can happily nod along with much of the music and there are a few tracks I genuinely like a lot, I find the album, as a whole, very difficult to actually love. Much of it sounds smart, slick and classy (the title track is a good example) and that may as a result of working with LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy, but the group I fell head over heels in love with back in 2005 have transformed so much that, were it not for a couple of songs that give us a glimpse of their old selves, they would almost be unrecognisable to me. This album was partly inspired by a trip that Win and Regine made to Haiti (Regine's family's home country) and tracks such as the excellent Here Comes The Night Time are full of that influence, so it's not that I dislike progress, I applaud bands who have the ambition to evolve beyond one sound, but if the direction a band has gone in isn't exactly to your taste, there's no point in trying to force yourself to love an album out of some kind of misguided loyalty. However, despite an absence of true love for Reflektor, it's very easy to like and enjoy much of this double album (apart from the six minutes of soundscape nothingness at the end of Supersymmetry).
There are only a handful of songs on this release I'd call true favourites. Firstly, there's We Exist, which is fuelled by a deep, rolling bassline, grooving along menacingly before erupting into a typically mighty Arcade Fire chorus. Then there's the aforementioned Here Comes The Night Time which is genuinely delightful and, finally, Afterlife which combines those Haitian influences with a New Order vibe. Thing is, when it comes down to it, there are too many songs here that I enjoy on a purely superficial level; songs such as Reflektor, You Already Know, Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice) and Porno that are very pleasing to the ears, but they just don't trigger any genuine excitement or emotion when listening to them. I think it is quite telling that I've read quite a lot of reviews and reactions from people who didn't particularly like earlier Arcade Fire and yet love Reflektor, as, although I'm sure they have also retained many fans too, their sound has changed substantially enough for Reflektor to divide opinion amongst those who have followed them from the beginning. As you can probably tell, I'm really not entirely won over by their fourth album and I will probably have to carefully listen to their next album before deciding whether to buy it, instead of pre-ordering it automatically as I have with every album since Funeral.
Great album. What can I say? I love it! Arcade Fire true to style, they are an exceptional and innovative band - unique! Have dug out a few of the old albums Neon Bible, Funeral to revisit. Can't understand why people are slating Reflektor or Arcade Fire themselves but everyone entitled to their own opinion. Even my kids think they're cool, no 1D for them!!