Hearing Aide: Arcade Fire’s ‘Reflektor’

Arcade-Fire-Reflektor-608x608After releasing the Grammy Award winning The Suburbs in 2010, Arcade Fire traveled to multi-instrumentalist, Régine Chassagne’s Haitian homeland, where the Montreal-based septet played before a Caribbean crowd whose musical background extended as far as the francophone island’s coasts. Just as George Harrison’s post-Revolver trip to India resulted in newfound international influences and a fresh identity as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Arcade Fire’s exposure to Haitian rara spawned the creation of The Reflektors, a moniker used in the band’s promotional campaign leading up to Reflector’s late October release.

From the beginning of the album’s  ambitiously creative promotional campaign, the influence brought on by traditional Caribbean culture acted as Reflektor’s centerpiece. The album title’s initial announcement came in the form of veve-inspired street art spread all throughout major cities across world, followed by the display of a Manhattan mural reading “Arcade Fire 9 PM 9/9.”

On September 9, Arcade Fire released their first single, “Reflektor,” the track that opens their fourth record of the same name. In its introduction, “Reflektor” exhibits a percussion section prominent throughout the entirety of the album.  Made up of drummer Jeremy Gara and Hatian conga players found during the band’s Caribbean travels, the percussive dominance used throughout Reflektor is emphasized by the production contributions of LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy.

Divided into two discs, the first half of Reflektor continues the title track’s dance-driven instrumentation, integrating a range of genres far removed from the baroque-rock days of Funeral. “We Exist” incorporates a disco-style bass riff among reverbed-out guitar chords, and the influences responsible for distorted guitar lines in “Normal Person” are recognized by frontman Win Butler’s opening enquiry: “Do you like rock ‘n roll music?” Reflektor’s second disc is introduced by “Here Comes The Night Time II,” whose dissonant string section and prolonged synth lines feel more appropriately fit for the conclusion of an evening than its beginnings. Disc two finishes with the eleven minute-plus “Supersymmetry,” an ethereally epic track that acts as the cessation to an equally epic record. As a follow-up to their most well-received release in The Suburbs, Reflektor is the result of a more experienced, innovative Arcade Fire.

Key Tracks: Reflektor, Here Comes The Night Time, Afterlife

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