Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Arcade Fire - Reflektor (2013)

This is the fourth album from Canada's indie-rock darlings.  For you ADD readers, here's the synopsis:  The Arcade Fire has yet to match their brilliant debut, Funeral, but this album comes the closest.

The opening title track is excellent -- classic Arcade Fire fare, complete with great harmonies and horns.  It's the first indication that this is definitely a headphones album -- the lush production (particularly the bass thump) really comes through on the headphones as opposed to the car.

A great example is "We Exist," which sounded like a so-so track in the car, but is a tour de force in the headphones, where bass separation takes over and turns it into a measured romp.

The other star of the set is "Normal Person, which is a look back to their indie days.  It has both the charm and awkward sloppiness of a newly formed band (in the best possible way), but is arranged with the wisdom of years in the professional recording arena.  The off-kilter yet somehow perfect guitar riff is simple yet addictive.  The lyrics reflect a band at a crossroads:  "Look at those normals go," indeed.  It's both raw and refined at the same time, and sums up the balance of the album perfectly.  

The Arcade Fire - "Normal Person" Live on Jools Holland. "Creep" intro included at no additional charge.

One other track of note:  "You Already Know" just may be a tribute to The Fall.  Here are some clues:  1) musically it sounds like a classic Fall song; 2) they imitate lead singer Mark E. Smith's vocal delivery in the intro; and 3) they name-drop The Fall in the lyrics.  Eat your heart out, Encyclopedia Brown.

Overall, the moments of brilliance outweigh the moments of average-ness. If that is a word.  (Editor's note:  it is not.  It is not.)

CD Placement rating:  Portable CD Case.

- Snilch

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