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on 6 November 2013
Arcade Fire? Just a band...and a hugely over hyped one at that which might go some way to explaining why this 'abstract' and 'difficult' 4th album has divided hard core fans and rock dullard music journalists.

My own personal hero worship of Arcade was a brief two year fling between 2005 and 2007 that ended once I had overplayed the rather brilliant 'Neon Bible' with its gorgeous deluxe CD boxset. By the time that 'The Suburbs' came along, I had totally lost interest, skipped that particularly album despite all the praise and nonsense written about it until a week or so again when 'Reflecktor' blasted out of the radio and lifted a sterile playlist full of Top 40 twerking junk.
Was this really Arcade Fire with a pulsating Giorgio Moroder bassline, deliciously offbeat vocal interplay within a indie disco stomper that was subversively altering the airwaves of Planet Pop? The title track was worthy of further investigation and after one play of both volumes, I was hooked once again by this curious Canadian band and giving the entire album another listen, followed by another listen.

The first thing that struck me about this album as a whole was its wonderful diversity - each track is so different and so brilliantly bonkers how they all build then wrong foot the listener with a nifty chord change or a curve ball in the form of a frantic finish within a clash of ideas. It is this unique brilliance across both volumes that inspires wonder with each play. LCD's James Murphy certainly adds something new and exciting to Arcade's already rich pallet of sounds but his input has been massively overstated by those who have rubbished the album.

'Reflektor' isn't the full-on electronic album that critics claim, nor is it a traditional Arcade Fire album but it is something that will reward patient listeners with a love for vinyl and soundscapes and 'Reflektor' has plenty of that. There's enough 'classic' Arcade to please long term fans on Volume 1 with tracks that flirt with everything including reggae and 'rock' as well as influences that evoke fond memories of Bowie's finest album 'Low' merged with early Talking Heads & Eno. Then there's Arcade's trademark life affirming choruses all sung and performed as though the band are close to breakdown - edgy yet violently happy.

For me, the best is all left for volume 2 that contains my current choice track 'Porno' with its minimalist new wave synths, stripped bare and free of bombastic production that enables the track to take on a hypnotic, twisted journey. Someone really needs to lock Arcade in a studio awash with classic Moogs and other collectable analogue keyboards because 'Porno' could well be a future blueprint for a band keen to embrace new sonic adventures.

Perhaps the biggest compliment I can give to 'Reflektor' is that with each listen, my fave track changes. One night its 'Porno', the next its 'Afterlife' (a track that will be *everywhere* soon trust me) and at the time of writing these words, 'It's Never Over (Oh Orpheus)' has crept into the scheme of things.

Some people think 'Reflektor' is 'too long'? Nonsense I say. It's not long enough.

I want volumes 5 & 6 and I want them now.

The 180g double vinyl is quite steep with a retail price of over 20 pounds but the sturdy cover and inner sleeves are printed on lush light reflective card. This provides a brilliant effect on the inlay of volume 2 which is covered with stylishly spooky phototgraphy from Depeche Mode's visual director Anton Corbijn. Grab this vinyl deluxe edition whilst you can before future pressings revert back to cheaper packaging.
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on 6 January 2016
I had avoided Arcade Fire for years because I didn't really understand their music. I'm not sure I do still, but I don't mean that in a bad way - since I bought Reflektor, I've been back and bought all their other stuff and watched countless concerts of theirs on Youtube. God I love them as a band and I'm kicking myself I didn't get into them earlier and I'm still noticing oodles of stuff I love about their music. I had always liked 'The Suburbs' song, but Reflektor had not figured on my radar till Youtube popped it up in a suggested selection a few weeks ago and the black and white picture of an industrial scene with metallic shutter, warehouses, and military truck meant I just had to play that video. And wow, is it good. That was it - I had to have the album and I immediately hit a problem because I didn't like two of the tracks - Here Comes The Night; and Flashbulb eyes. But this completely changed round because of some live performances I watched where I found that the glamorously sexy Regine Chassagne played the steel drums; and the saxophone parts are like bits of silken music enriching the rest of the song. And I love how Here Comes The Night starts fast, slows down, starts fast and slows down again. Reflektor does this a bit too, and Flashbulb Eyes has so much Reggae in it, it's brilliant and just a funny lighthearted song. All my kids love the album, my friends too. Oh - for the live performances, one of the best on YouTube is Arcade Fire at the Northside Festival in 2014 - a full unmixed version. If you're wavering over the album watch that and find your fingers automatically pressing the buy button! A very addictive album. I love them.
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Arcade Fire have been a band I have been following since the seminal Funeral album was released way back in, was it 2005?

Each album subsequent to that, Neon Bible and latterly, The Suburbs, have seen them confound expectations. But, whilst they have done a Radiohead and aimed for ever more obscure sounds inspired by seemingly endless rounds of navel gazing and struggling with the awkwardness they clearly show at their world domination, their sound has never suffered or become boring.

So it is, with the fourth album, we are treated to yet another string to their bow. Proceedings are pretty much in the vein of lead single Reflektor, if you have heard this the you know the type of sound, low key drums, whispered vocals that are oft snarled into the mic, all told a fairly disconcerting mix which is very intoxicating and draws you in on repeated listening. Some of the rougher and more ill-defined noises reminds me of 'On Avery Island' era Neutral Milk Hotel, a very analog-ish, lo-fi and rough sound that is very intriguing.

Although this is a double album it could have comfortably fit on one disc rather than two, but hey, it doesn't matter. The album packaging is well thought out, each disc has a fold out booklet that contains lyrics and grainy, colour photos that are abstract, voodoo-esque and unsettling. A very good accompaniment to the sounds.

I have been drawn in and seduced by this album, although not an immediate hit with killer hooks it pulls you into its world upon repeated listening and is genuinely brilliant.

For the Arcade Fire fan this is essential.

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on 31 October 2013
At first I really hated this album. If you're more of a fan of the classic funeral, you may disappointed. Yet if you love Arcade Fire and love progression this album does it. There's a lot of 80s retro feel to this, I personally love sprawl II on the suburbs, so the 80s feel worked well for me. The first cd is an eclectic mix with the title track reflektor being funky. It then goes on to have a touch of reggae, rock, dance. The second part then delves in to darker territory, into heavy bass, electro rock. All in all after a few listens it has totally blown me away, some will love, some will hate. I think their progression is epic. Standout tracks for me are normal person, its not over(hey orpheus) and afterlife. Would recommend to anyone, superb album
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on 29 October 2013
Fans worldwide have hotly anticipated this fourth album release from the mighty Montreal outfit. Having been a HUGE fan for coming up a decade, I held my breath for this date. There had been a lot of hype surrounding the release - the `secret' performances, the hidden `reflektor' graffiti appearing across cities, and the fact that LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy was in charge of the production. So, was all this hype worth it? ... In a word, no.

Before dismissing me as `missing it', let me outline my argument as to why this album just doesn't add to the genius of Arcade Fire. To historically contextualise - `Funeral' was a freak of an album - just a one-off out of nowhere that was simply sublime. `Neon Bible' was a fantastic follow up and showed the maturity of the band, whilst `The Suburbs' (my personal favourite), beyond all expectation, again was/still is one of the albums of the decade.

Now, one of the reasons I have always liked AF is for their originality and ability to create truly melodic songs whilst constantly pushing the boundaries of song writing. Unfortunately, `Reflektor', whilst a change in direction, is essentially a collection of soundscapes and un-linear styles (i.e. disco backbeats, a bit of reggae, even some 70's rock influence). And this flux of styles has really robbed them of the groove and style that had become accustomed the unique `Arcade Fire sound' over the past 10 years. I completely respect that bands want to expand and develop their identity, style, and musicianship...but why such a drastic change?! And not only such a drastic change, but completely disjointed in it's orientation and direction.

I really have to agree with some of the other reviewers here, but would like to expand. The band received critical acclaim for `The Suburbs', and rightly so! But I fear that this new confidence is slightly, and I must emphasise slightly, bordering on arrogance. The average length of each song stands at around five-and-a-half/six minutes, and so much of this is dominated by the electronic experimentation. For example, I actually really like the final song, "Supersymmetry" - BUT the `song' is 11.17; yet it actually finishes around 5.30 - I just don't understand the need? The counter argument to this, I suppose, is that attempts to capture the ambience of the tone throughout the album. For me though, it just doesn't work.

This is really my primary gripe with the album. Whilst there are some decent tracks, I would have preferred it to have direction and continuity (i.e. why not let the title track set the rest of the tone for the album). I certainly appreciate that some will really enjoy this change in direction and that's completely fine. Sadly, I finished the album (twice) lamenting my old Arcade Fire. Before giving my review an unhelpful click, please remember that I have simply reflected (as a faithful AF fan) on my experiences so far with the new album and I am not offering an unjust critical assessment. Is it a bad album? - No. Is it a bad AF album? - A hesitant `no'. But it doesn't reach the heights or raise the bar of any of their other releases. Alas, I cannot sum it up any more than that.
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on 29 October 2013
Seriously, why are people so damn keen to label poor old Arcade Fire as 'the best band in the world'? All this does is heap a load of unnecessary pressure and expectation on a band who are clearly looking to explore their potential and create new and exciting albums.

Nearly every review starts by going on and on about how good 'Funeral', 'Neon Bible' and 'The Suburbs' are, before descending into criticizing Reflektor. This seems massively unfair to me. Is it possible that Arcade Fire are not quite the band that the Indie crowd were all so keen to label them as when they adopted them into their narrow-minded guild? I think that Arcade Fire are a very talented and unique band with an enormous arsenal of tricks up their sleeve; of which this album is another product. I think that all the hype and expectation does is turn many people away from this exciting band as they perceive them to be pretentious and inaccessible. This is a shame. I think that this band will continue to record superb albums for many years and that this is another important step along that path.

Reflektor is certainly more electronic in places, particularly the title track and 'Porno', although this works for me. There are certainly moments of over-embellishment too, particularly the bridge in 'Here Comes The Night Time'. There are a few straight forward rock tracks like 'Flashbulb Eyes' and 'Normal Person' and then there is the beautifully mellow closing track 'Supersymmetry' which really leaves a tantalizing taste in the listener. Basically, this is a very eclectic album full of depth and diversity. I admit that there are sections of filler that are totally unnecessary (particularly the hidden track!) and that this album lacks the stand out tracks that may have been present on previous Arcade Fire albums, but I honestly think that it is too soon to pass judgement on the album as a whole. I predict that in 10 years time people will be writing retrospective reviews of 'Reflektor' stating that it was an underrated classic or one of the band's hidden gems in a long and illustrious career. My only criticism really is that you could easily fit the tracks on one disc, especially if you got rid of the latter half of 'Supersymmetry'. I think that this would have helped a great deal with the marketing and the reception of this album, since I feel that 'double albums' are always treated differently.

All in all then, I think that Reflektor is an album of ups and downs. I agree with most of the praise and criticism from other reviewers, but my main gripe is that they judge Arcade Fire too harshly for making a 4/5 album. Granted it's not their best album to date (I personally prefer The Suburbs) but it is a dynamic and interesting album packed with experimentation and catchy music. My top tracks would have to be 'We Exist', 'Reflektor', 'Porno' and 'Supersymmetry'.
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on 30 October 2013
'Reflektor' is a MASTERPIECE. The 4th album by Canadian indie outfit Arcade Fire - produced by LCD Soundsystem legend James Murphy and regular Markas Dravs, 'Reflektor' is part funky driven 80's electronic beats backed with disco, reggae and Springsteen reminiscent rock and pop and part sweeping melodic sounds of a band exploring sounds previously untapped. Songs like 'Joan Of Arc' and 'Supersymmetry' ending with reprisals of other songs, disco backbeats, muffled conversation and whirring static electronic noise. Lead single 'Reflektor' embellishing the influence producer Jame Murphy has had on the band with an 80's filled electronic funk number which echoes in other tracks such as 'We Exist' and 'Porno'. While the album retains that Arcade Fire sound with tracks 'Flashbulb Eyes' and 'Normal Person', while 'Joan Of Arc' and 'You Already Know' show a clear connection between 'The Suburbs' and 'Funeral'. 'Sypersymmetry' providing a haunting mellow ending to the album with orchestral backing which lingers on with the sound of a band becoming distant from reality.

'Reflektor' is an evolution. The move into territories uncharted by the band. A move from the bland rock and pop sounds which populated 3rd album 'The Suburbs' into a sound which is two parts full and empty. Given the disappointing mess of bland sounds which preceded it, 'Reflektor' is a return to form and matched only by the masterpiece telling of humanities end with 'Neon Bible'.
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on 28 October 2013
Talking Heads took the mickey out of themselves with the cd title, More Songs About Buildings and Food. They'd written about their obsessions before. Here were more. Arcade Fire, who have been so influenced that band, seem to be doing the same thing, but perhaps with less irony.

Their first, Funeral, we were told, was inspired by the deaths of various family members. Neon Bible had the superb My Body is a Cage, which I'd like played at my own funeral. While it's not too much of a stretch to suggest that the Suburbs was about the half-life that is the suburban experience. Reflektor once again deals with similarly dark themes: death, afterlife, existence and lack of it. And it does it with such bounce and joy!

The album gets off to a romping start with the title track. 'This is heaven, I don't know what it's for,' Win Butler sings in that yelpy voice, with Regine Chassagne echoing back in her own little girl voice in French. We Exist is busy and clever. Flashbulb Eyes has a loose-limbed feel. Then there is Here Comes the Night Time, which is superb. It starts like a street party, before settling down to an atmospheric chug, with a gorgeous melody. Normal Person has a neat piano riff and a great chorus...

Much of the album could have been done in the 80s. It's got a kind of electro-funky feel to it - with obvious echoes of LCD Soundsystem. I'd have to see it live to know how many of the 'instruments' are actually done on a synthesizer. Joan of Arc, the next track, wouldn't have been out of place on a Sweet or Suzi Quatro album from the 70s. While Here Comes the Night Time II sounds almost like Lennon at his sweetest. And surely there's an element of Sympathy for the Devil in the ooh-oohs of Afterlife.

Arcade Fire are a band comfortable with their many influences - particularly Talking Heads and Bowie - but which they have absorbed and metamorphosed into something uniquely their own. Butler and Chassagne sound almost like a couple of children singing in grand surroundings that they're trying to make sense of. Awful Sound and Porno are probably the two tracks I'm listening to most, but I know that this will change. There isn't a weak track. The lyrics to Afterlife keep repeating in my head - 'Afterlife. Oh my God, what an awful word. After all the breath and the dirt and the fires that burn...' This is metaphysical stuff coupled to carousel music.

Supersymmetry is the final song. It's as bouncy as all the other musings on life and death - until half way through, when it slows right down to little more than a tinkling ambient drone. Perhaps this is the afterlife (heaven? hell? some kind of holding station?) they've been striving for all along.
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on 28 October 2013
Reflektor is the fourth studio album by Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire.

It was tricky enough following up the seminal debut Funeral; this remains their best work to date. However Neon Bible and The Suburbs were still sublime.

The new album is another turn in a different direction. Notably co-produced by James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem), Reflektor takes on a funky electronic façade. Epicly spread over two CDs there is an hour and a half of new material for devoted fans to get their teeth into which is instantly quite demanding. Much like their previous works, the album improves with additional listens. But the ingenuity in some of the tracks is weighed down by their excessive length, a stark contrast to the precision of tracks such as 'Laika' from Funeral (3 minutes and a half) - compare this to some of the tracks on this album that clock in at 6 or 7 minutes and you begin to wonder whether the band could have been a little more cunning.

It's a fresh and ambitious record that requires time and patience but is perhaps a little too grandiose and less refined than their older work.

Listen to: Reflektor, Flashbulb Eyes, Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)
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on 30 October 2015
I've tried listening to AF discs, before, but the music didn't click with me. I have no idea why. After recently hearing these albums, I now can't get enough of them. Great stuff, give 'em a try. And if you've dismissed them before, try again. This is a unique, compelling group from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
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